President Donald Trump shared his vision for Asia with regional leaders at a conference in Vietnam Friday.
Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam, the fourth leg of a five-nation tour across Asia, Trump emphasized sovereignty and independence, freedom, fair trade, and the failures of past administrations to secure a realistic role for America in the region.
“Throughout my travels, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the good news from America,” he explained, “I’ve had the honor of sharing our vision for a free & open Indo-Pacific — a place where sovereign & independent nations, w/diverse cultures & many different dreams, can all prosper side-by-side.”
“In more and more places throughout this region, citizens of sovereign and independent nations have taken greater control of their destinies, and unlocked the potential of their people,” the president said.
“Today I am here to offer a renewed partnership with America — to work together to strengthen the bonds of friendship and commerce between all of the nations of the Indo-Pacific, and together, to promote our prosperity and security,” Trump stressed to regional leaders, adding, “The United States is prepared to work with each of the leaders in this room today to achieve mutually beneficial commerce that is in the interests of both your countries and mine.”
Watch: President Donald Trump Speaks At APEC 2017
The president stated that the days of “chronic trade abuses” are over, reminding all countries — China in particular — that the U.S. will no longer tolerate the “audacious theft” of intellectual property or the forced transfer of technology to foreign firms. Trump avoided blaming China, putting the burden of guilt on past administrations.
“If their representatives are able to get away with it, they are just doing their jobs,” he said, echoing statements made earlier in China, “I wish previous administrations in my country saw what was happening and did something about it. They did not, but I will.”
“We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore,” the president asserted. “I am always going to put America first, the same way I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.”
Trump condemned sweeping multilateral agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — “large agreements that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty, and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible.” The 12-nation pact was a legacy multilateral trade deal orchestrated by the Obama administration, but Trump withdrew from the agreement.
The president also expressed a broader vision for a “free and open Indo-Pacific region,” a plan which appears designed to curb China’s growing clout. During the APEC meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping also spoke, presenting an alternative vision emphasizing globalization and multilateral cooperation between Asian nations. Competing visions and opposing strategic interests are likely to continue to create friction between the U.S. and China.
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