Tags: China | Trump Administration | asia | mark esper | south korea | japan | allies

WSJ: US Push for Unified Asia Response to China Aggression Gets Chilly Reception

mark esper speaks during a news conference
Defense Secretary Mark Esper (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 21 November 2019 09:24 PM

There might be trouble ahead for the Trump administration's policy in Asia, with allies apparently not on board with the U.S. pressing for a unified response to Chinese aggression, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the Journal, Defense Secretary Mark Esper opened meetings in Bangkok on Monday alongside his Thai, Japanese, and South Korean counterparts with a stern warning about recent Chinese actions.

"Beijing is increasingly resorting to coercion and intimidation to advance its strategic objectives at the expense of other nations," Esper told allies, the Journal reported.

But none of the defense ministers responded in kind, signaling potential second thoughts about the U.S. strategy, the Journal reported.

"The U.S. is competing for partners in the region with China," Kim Jina, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, a state-funded think tank, told the Journal.

"That's what the U.S.'s talk of a free and open Indo-Pacific is about. South Korea is one of the countries in the middle. Seoul is seeking to have good relations with both."

The issue is exacerbated by the Trump administration's demands that South Korea and Japan pay more for stationing U.S. troops in their countries, the Journal reported.

A day after Esper's meetings in Bangkok ended, talks over military cost-sharing between the U.S. and South Korea broke off.

"Things like that happen in negotiations," Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, told the Journal. "But what is new is that this happened during negotiations over a key alliance issue between the U.S. and South Korea."

Japanese officials also have been wary about American demands Tokyo raise its contribution for hosting 54,000 troops — and are watching the negotiations between South Korea and the United States, according to the Journal.

James Kim, a senior researcher at the Asan Institute, a private think tank in Seoul, told the Jouranl things could be worse for U.S. ties in the region.

"At least for now, in a worst-case scenario, South Korea can pay more to keep the U.S. troops here," he told the Journal. "During [the] Carter [administration], the U.S. was going to just go ahead with removing the troops."

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With allies apparently not on board with the U.S. pressing for a unified response to Chinese aggression, there might be trouble ahead for the Trump administration's policy in Asia, according to The Wall Street Journal.
asia, mark esper, south korea, japan, allies
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2019-24-21
Thursday, 21 November 2019 09:24 PM
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