What would a Donald Trump presidency mean for Asia?

February 2, 2016 12:59 PM (UTC+8)

 

With Ted Cruz winning the Republican Party’s Iowa caucus Monday night, everyone is calling Donald Trump a loser and beginning to write him off.

Donald Trump during Iowa campaign
Donald Trump during Iowa caucus campaign

Not so fast. The fact is very few winners of the Republican caucus succeed in becoming the party’s candidate for president. Despite, Trump’s over-the-top, egotistical assertions he was going to win Iowa, many polls had predicted a Cruz win. However, Trump tops the polls in the next two contests, in New Hampshire and South Carolina. So, there’s still a good chance he may win the nomination.

And while it remains to be seen if Americans are ready for a Trump presidency, Barron’s asks if Asia is ready to Trump? Undoubtedly with his isolationist rhetoric, Asia is one of the regions to be the real loser should Trump become president.

“President Trump would be a typhoon for U.S. relations in Asia,” Jeff Kingston, head of Asian studies at the Tokyo campus of Temple University told Barron’s.

While many pundits have said Trump doesn’t really believe everything he says on the stump, Barron’s said if we take him at his word, this is what Asia can expect from a President Trump’s foreign policy:

  • Trump would tear up or demand a renegotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which has been a big win for Japan over China.
  • With the Bank of Japan’s move last week to push interest rates into negative territory, Japan continues to drive the yen down vs. the dollar. In addition, many expect the Chinese currency to soon be devalued again. Either or both could spark a currency war with a Treasury department under Trump. This could include a 45% tariff on Chinese exports, raising import duties on Japanese cars or devaluing the dollar.
  • As the Republican standard bearer, Trump would have to deny climate change exists. This could have lasting implications for Asia, which is becoming one of the most polluted regions on the planet. A Trump presidency could be “the green light for a region already choking on growth to increase its carbon footprint along with America.”
  • While Trump’s notorious proposal to ban Muslim immigrants is sadly increasing his popularity around the US, it could have the opposite effect in Asia, which has four of the five nations with the largest Muslim populations. Even though it’s unworkable and unconstitutional, it could force Indonesia and Malaysia to move away from Washington’s policies.
  • Finally, U.S.-Asia military alliances could be thrown into disarray as Trump seeks to have Japan and South Korea contribute more to the cost of the US defending them.
  • Trump “wouldn’t simply wreck those alliances, but destabilize Northeast Asia’s precarious balance,” Van Jackson of the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu wrote in an op-ed for The Diplomat.
  • And where would a Trump White House leave Taiwan? Barron’s said that’s anyone’s guess.

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