Strategy of the Trump Administration on Asia-Pacific

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2019-63-6-25-37

A. Torkunov (,
MGIMO University, 76, Prosp. Vernadskogo, Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation

Abstract. The article provides a comprehensive review of the U.S. policy in Asia during the Trump administration, which is conceptualized on the basis of the “Indo-Pacific” concept. The author notes that this concept originated from Japan and India, then was adopted by the Obama administration as the political framework for the U.S. pivot to Asia, and now has been reintroduced in Asia to serve Trump’s “America First” guideline. Under the Trump administration, Washington sharply intensified its efforts to design the “Indo-Pacific region”: the four countries (the US, India, Japan, and Australia) openly support and advocate this concept, and to make it practical they have established multilateral political consultation mechanisms and developed military venues of quadrilateral cooperation. By this stage, as the author argues, the “Indo-Pacific” policy of the U.S. and its Asian allies shifted to be a blunt effort of block-building rather than an endeavor of establishing an inclusive regional cooperation mechanism. Moreover, the article interprets this block approach as growingly anti-China-centric. The U. S. is attempting to assemble a coalition to contain China in general, and particularly its implementation of its “One Belt, One Road” initiative. The author overviews the U.S. policy towards North Korea, economic cooperation in Asia, and relations with major Asian actors to build the ground for the main finding of the article: the “Indo-Pacific” block-building fundamentally contradicts the well-established Asian political tradition of a more inclusive and softer approach as is manifested in the core mechanisms of international relations in Asia, i. e. Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), East Asia Summit (EAS), and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Hence, while many Asian states have concerns about the progressing Chinese might and ambitions, most of them — except the three countries (India, Japan, and Australia) — remain committed to these long-standing mechanisms, refraining from shifting to the “Indo-Pacific” block approach.

Keywords: Indo-Pacific region, US foreign policy, “Quartet” consultation mechanism, People’s Republic of China


1. Speech by Mr. Taro Aso, Minister for Foreign Affairs on the Occasion of the Japan Institute of International Affairs Seminar “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity: Japan’s Expanding Diplomatic Horizons”, November 30, 2006. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Available at: (accessed 16.02.2019).

2. “Confluence of the Two Seas” Speech by H. E. Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan at the Parliament of the Republic of India, August 22, 2007. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Available at: (accessed 16.02.2019).

3. Khurana G.S. Security of Sea Lines: Prospects for India–Japan Cooperation. Journal of Strategic Analysis, 2007, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 139-153.

4. Defence White Paper 2009. Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030. Australian Government. Department of Defence of Australia. Available at: (accessed 16.02.2019).

5. Kaplan R.D. Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power. New York, Random House, 2010. 366 .

6. Quadrennial Defense Review Report. US Defence Department. February 2010. Available at: QDR%20as%20of%2029JAN10%201600.pdf (accessed 16.02.2019).

7. Safranchuk I.A. Rol’ voennoi sily v politike Obamy. Opyt prinyatiya reshenii na afganskom napravlenii [The Role of Military Power in Obama’s Policy. The Case of Decision-Making on Afghanistan issues]. International Trends, 2017, no. 2, pp. 89-98.

8. linton Hillary Rodham. America’s Engagement in the Asia-Pacific. US State Department. Available at: (accessed 16.02.2019).

9. Clinton H. America’s Pacific Century. Foreign Policy, October 11, 2011. Available at: (accessed 16.02.2019).

10. Saran S. Mapping the Indo-Pacific. India and the strategic inter-linkage between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The Indian Express, 29.10.2011. Available at: (accessed 16.02.2019).

11. D U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05783053. Wikileaks. Available at: (accessed 16.02.2019).

12. Green M.J. Defining U.S. Indian Ocean Strategy. The Washington Quarterly, 2012, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 175-189.

13. Scott D. Australia’s embrace of the ‘Indo-Pacific’: new term, new region, new strategy? International Relations of the Asia- Pacific, 2013, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 425-448.

14. Medcalf R. In defence of the Indo-Pacific: Australia’s new strategic map. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 2014, vol. 68, no. 4, pp. 470-483.

15. Mohan C.R. Samudra Manthan: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Indo-Pacific. Washington, DC, Carnegie Corporation for International Peace, 2012. 360 p.

16. Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of The United States of America. US Defense Department. Available at: (accessed 12.02.2019).

17. Beeson M., Wilson J. The Indo-Pacific: Reconceptualizing the Asian Regional Space. East Asia, 2018, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 79-84.

18. Scott D. The “Indo-Pacific” – New Regional Formulations and New Maritime Frameworks for US-India Strategic Convergence. Asia-Pacific Review, 2012, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 85-109.

19. Panetta L. (U.S. defense minister). The U.S. and India: Partners in the 21st Century. June 6, 2012. Available at: (accessed 16.03.2018).

20. Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting. 17–18.04.2018. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Available at: (accessed 25.04.2018).

21. US, Japan India and Australia hold working level quadrilateral meeting on regional cooperation. The Diplomat, February 11, 2017. Available at: (accessed 04.04.2018).

22. Remarks by President Trump on His Trip to Asia. Foreing Policy, November 15, 2017. Available at: (accessed 17.05.2018).

23. Khong Y.F. A Regional Perspective on the US and Chinese Visions for East Asia. Asia Policy, 2018, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 6-12.

24. Japan-Australia-India-U.S. Consultations. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. June 7, 2018. Available at: (accessed 08.06.2018).

25. Prepared Remarks for Vice President Pence at the East Asia Summit Plenary Session. Singapore, Foreing Policy, November, 15, 2018. Available at: (accessed 16.02.2019).

26. The 13th East Asia Summit. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. 15.11.2018. Available at: (accessed 16.11.2018).

27. Chairman’s Statement of The 13th East Asia Summit. Singapore, 15.11.2018. Available at: East_Asia_Summit_Chairman_Statement_Final.pdf (accessed 16.11.2018).

28. Remarks of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Russian-Vietnamese conference of international club “Valdai”, Ho Chi Minh City, February 25, 2019 (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 26.02.2019).

29. 2019 missile Defense Review. US Defense Department. Available at: (accessed 12.02.2019).

30. Trump signed Space Force formation memorandum. Rossiiskaya gazeta, 20.02.2019 (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 22.02.2019).

31. Communication from China to the United Nations dated May 7, 2009. United Nations. Available at: (accessed 20.02.2019).

32. Chong J.I. Deconstructing order in Southeast Asia in the age of Trump. Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs. 2017, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 29-35.

33. Kim D.A Systematic Analysis of the Early Trump Foreign Policy: Implications for Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula. The Korean Journal of Security Affairs (KJSA), 2018, vol. 23, no. 1. pp. 4-20.

34. Joint Statement of Russian and Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministries on the Korean peninsula’s problems (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 05.07.2017).

35. A step towards “reset”. Profil’, 11.05.2017 (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 22.06.2017).

36. New Year celebration speech of Kim Jong-un, 2018. Livejornal. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 16.02.2019).

37. North Korea called for unity of all Koreans and their struggle with the USA. Regnum (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 24.02.2019).

38. im Jong Un promises “major Change” after First Ever Summit Between Leaders of U.S. and North Korea. Singapore. The Time, 12.06.2018. Available at: (accessed 16.02.2019).

39. Vietnam summit: North Korea and US offer differing reasons for failure of talks. The Guardian, 01.03.2019. Available at: (accessed 01.03.2019).

40. im Jong Un refused to make concessions to the USA. Kommersant, 01.03.2019 (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 01.03.2019).

41. Clarke M., Ricketts A. Donald Trump and American Foreign Policy: The Return of the Jacksonian Tradition. Comparative Strategy, 2017, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 366-379.

42. Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Abe of Japan in Joint Press Conference. Foreign Policy, June 7, 2018. Available at: (accessed 11.02.2019).

43. Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Global Affairs Canada, June 14, 2018. Available at: (accessed 25.02.2019).

44. Joint Leaders’ Statement on the RCEP Negotiations. Singapore. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia. November 14, 2018. Available at: (accessed 25.02.2019).

45. Terada T. RCEP Negotiations and the Implications for the United States. The National Bureau of Asian Research (USA), 20.12.2018. Available at: (accessed 25.02.2019).

46. Trump Signs Revised Korean Trade Deal. The New York Times, 24.09.2018. Available at: (accessed 30.09.2018).

47. Joint Statement of the Security Consultative Committee. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. April 27, 2015. Available at: (accessed 15.01.2019).

48. Cabinet Decision on Development of Seamless Security Legislation to Ensure Japan’s Survival and Protect its People. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. July 1, 2014. Available at: (accessed 12.05.2017).

49. South Korea finished deployment of US antimissile defense THAAD complex. Rossiiskaya gazeta, 07.09.2017 (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 02.03.2019).

50. Putin and Modi discussed all issues of privileged strategic partnership. TASS, 21.05.2018 (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 21.02.2019).

51. Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of The United States of America. US Defense Department. Available at: (accessed 28.02.2019).

52. Remarks by Vice President Pence on the Administration’s Policy Toward China. Foreign Policy, October 4, 2018. Available at: (accessed 21.02.2019).

53. Remarks by President Trump in State of the Union Address. February 5, 2019. Available at: (accessed 07.02.2019).

54. US postpone the introduction of duties on Chinese goods. RIA Novosti (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 27.02.2019).

55. President Trump is ready to call back ultimatum to Beijing. Nezavisimaya gazeta, 21.02.2019 (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 27.02.2019).

Registered in System SCIENCE INDEX

For citation:
Torkunov A. Strategy of the Trump Administration on Asia-Pacific. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2019, vol. 63, no. 6, pp. 25-37.

Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment






Dear authors! Please note that in the VAK List of peer-reviewed scientific journals, in which the main scientific results of dissertations for the degree of candidate and doctor of sciences should be published for the “MEMO Journal” the following specialties are recorded:
economic sciences:
5.2.5. World Economy.
5.2.1. Economic Theory
5.2.3. Regional and Branch Economics
political sciences:
5.5.4. International Relations
5.5.1. History and Theory of Politics
5.5.2. Political Institutions, Processes, Technologies


Current Issue
2024, vol. 68, No. 7
Topical Themes of the Issue:
  • The Supporting Structure of Global Security
  • Institutional Features of the Fourth Energy Transition
  • The Evolution of Modern German Christian Democracy
  • The Monarchies of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia
Submit an Article
The Editorial Board invites authors to write analytical articles on the following topics:
  • changes in the processes of globalization in modern conditions
  • formation of the new world order
  • shifts in civilization at the stage of transition to a digital society

The editors are also interested in publishing synthesis articles / scientific reviews revealing the main trends in the development of certain regions of the world - Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.