U.S.-Indo Pacific Relations in 2017

Jan 14, 2018

As the first full year of the Donald Trump Presidency winds to a close, Susan Thornton, Acting Assistant Secretary for the East Asian and Pacific Affairs took the opportunity to look back at some of the new Administration's achievements in the Indo-Pacific region.

During his November visit to this area, President Donald Trump discussed with foreign leaders key issues affecting the global community, wrote Acting Assistant Secretary Thornton in a recent blog post. These included contrasting South Korea's rise with the impoverished stagnation of North Korea; the need for China to correct its unfair trade practices; and China's role in curbing North Korea's illegal weapons of mass destruction programs.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan. (File)
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan. (File)

Indeed, North Korea's illegal nuclear weapons program is becoming a global threat, while the country's ballistic missile tests and provocative rhetoric have increased tensions among its neighbors. “Following an in-depth policy review,” wrote Acting Assistant Secretary Thornton, “the United States initiated a ‘maximum pressure campaign' of strong diplomatic actions and economic sanctions against North Korea, with the intent of convincing Pyongyang to engage in serious negotiations toward denuclearization.”

As a result, many of our allies around the globe have joined the United States in restricting or ending North Korean diplomatic activities, severing all trade ties and imposing or tightening economic sanctions on North Korea.

At the same time, we expanded our engagement with China, conducting four high-level dialogues on topics ranging from cultural ties to our economic relations, from law enforcement to cybersecurity, and from diplomacy to regional security, including the threat of North Korea.

And finally, we worked to expand our partnerships with the Pacific Islands, identifying new avenues of cooperation on regional and global challenges and emphasizing our continued commitment to the region's security, prosperity, and stability.

“In the coming year, we will continue to expand cooperation with Pacific Island countries and like-minded partners to tackle global and regional issues, including promoting sustainable fishing, countering transnational crime, enhancing disaster resilience and response, and strengthening people-to-people ties,” wrote Acting Assistant Secretary Thornton.

“As we look forward to 2018, our allies, friends and partners in the East Asia and Pacific can rest assured that the United States will continue to be fully engaged across this vitally important region.”