Once again, Trump has broken the mould. The 100-day mark is traditionally used to assess a new administration’s progress in advancing its policy agenda. With Trump, that’s impossible. In foreign policy at least, it’s more appropriate to ask whether at the 100-day mark the Trump administration is any closer to actually having a policy agenda.
In no region is this question more pressing than in the Asia Pacific. The Asia Pacific is home to two-thirds of the world’s population, two-thirds of the global economy, and provides two-thirds of all global economic growth. It is the arena for the most serious challenge to America’s international role since it emerged as a global power a century ago. It is also the region that hosts six of the world’s nine nuclear states, and four of those have the fastest growing stockpiles and the most unpredictable nuclear doctrines.
Few would dispute that for over 70 years, the United States has both stabilised the Asia Pacific’s fractious strategic affairs and underpinned its rapid economic development. And so the possibility of a radically different American role in the region instituted by the least conventional President in living memory is of vital interest not only to the residents of the region, but to the world as a whole.
We asked experts from across the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific to watch and assess the impact of Trump on the Asia Pacific during the first hundred days of his Presidency – and how the region, and Australia should respond. It’s the sort of exercise that the largest and most comprehensive collection of expertise on the Asia Pacific on the planet can do with relish – and with a customary policy eye. The result is a fascinating and varied portrait of how the new administration has affected the world’s most dynamic region, and how the region is likely to react.
When viewed together, these essays allow us to reflect on three questions that will be crucial for this region and the world over the next four years and perhaps beyond. What have we learned about Trump and his administration? What do the region’s reactions to Trump tell us about the regional role of the United States in the future? And what do these responses tell us about the Asia Pacific, and its likely trajectory in the near- and mid-term future?