The United States “Pivot” or “Rebalance” to Asia is widely considered to have begun with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s October 2011 article in Foreign Policy magazine, titled “America’s Pacific Century.” The article set forth one of the most comprehensive blueprints for the future of US foreign policy. The beginning of the Pivot, however, dates back to the early days of the Barack Obama administration during which the US signaled its renewed commitment to multilateralism and economic engagement with Asia. The Obama administration’s signing of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in 2009 and its joining of the East Asia Summit (EAS) in 2010 were both concrete steps taken by the US under the banner of the Pivot to Asia. Since then, the Pivot was the defining theme of the Obama administration’s policy towards Asia.

The election of Donald Trump in November 2016 signaled a major change in America’s approach to the region. Trump’s calling into question the efficacy of traditional alliances with South Korea and Japan, his landmark phone call with Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen, and his withdrawal from the TPP have all signaled that he intends to transform America’s relations the region. The Trump administration’s approach to Asia may have taken a different tone, but the region’s significance to US foreign policy will not diminish.

After a year, there are mixed signals from the Trump administration to Asian countries. On the one hand, the administration has emphasized the primacy of US interests under its “America First” banner. Rather than engaging Asian countries widely, the administration has been heavily concerned with China and North Korea while references to liberalism, democracy, or human rights have been noticeably absent in its Asia policy. On the other hand, there have been moves to re-engage with some Asian countries which were initially overlooked by the Trump administration in the first half of 2017. Leaders of some Southeast Asian countries were invited by President Trump to hold summits. Although not entirely successful, President Trump participated in the annual US-ASEAN summit and East Asia Summit at the end of 2017. There have also been increasing references by the president and his top officials regarding the Indo-Pacific as a US strategy towards the wider Asian region.

This project is designed to provide policy recommendations for current and future US administrations to pursue in Asia. Several studies have already been put forth for what the new administration should do in Asia, yet these are primarily focused on what the US wants from an American perspective. This research project is unique in that it reflects the perspectives and recommendations of Asian experts from across the region. It provides a frank review of the Pivot over the past eight years and surveys the perceptions and interests of different Asian countries towards the US; in short, it is about what Asia wants.

Table of Contents

■ Preface
■ Acknowledgements
■ Executive Summary
■ Introduction
■ Overall Assessments of the Pivot to Asia
■ The Military Pivot
■ The Economic Pivot
■ The Diplomatic Pivot
■ The Pivot and China
■ Understanding Asia
■ Policy Recommendations
■ Conclusion

* The views expressed herein are solely those of the authors and do not reflect those of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

About Experts



최강 박사는 아산정책연구원 원장이다. 2012년부터 2013년까지 국립외교원에서 기획부장과 외교안보연구소장을 역임했으며, 동 연구원에서 2005년부터 2012년까지 교수로 재직하며 2008년부터 2012년까지는 미주연구부장을 지냈다. 또한 2010년부터 2012년까지는 아태안보협력이사회 한국위원회 회장으로서 직무를 수행했다. 한국국방연구원에서는 1992년부터 1998년까지 국제군축연구실장, 2002년부터 2005년까지는 국방현안팀장 및 한국국방연구 저널 편집장 등 여러 직책을 역임했다. 1998년부터 2002년까지는 국가안전보장회의 정책기획부 부장으로서 국가 안보정책 실무를 다루었으며, 4자회담 당시 한국 대표 사절단으로도 참여한 바 있다. 1959년생으로 경희대 영어영문학과 졸업 후 미국 위스콘신 주립대에서 정치학 석사 학위를 받고 오하이오 주립대에서 정치학 박사 학위를 취득했다. 연구분야는 군비통제, 위기관리, 북한군사, 다자안보협력, 핵확산방지, 한미동맹 그리고 남북관계 등이다.


지역연구센터 ; 출판홍보실

이재현 박사는 아산정책연구원의 수석연구위원이다. 연세대학교 정치외교학과에서 정치학 학사, 동 대학원 정치학과에서 정치학 석사학위를 받고, 호주 Murdoch University에서 정치학박사 학위를 받았다. 학위 이후, 한국동남아연구소 선임연구원을 거쳐 외교통상부 산하 국립외교원의 외교안보연구소에서 객원교수를 지냈다. 주요 연구분야는 동남아 정치, 아세안, 동아시아 지역협력 등이며, 비전통 안보와 인간 안보, 오세아니아와 서남아 지역에 대한 분야로 연구를 확장하고 있다. 주요 연구결과물은 다음과 같다. “Transnational Natural Disasters and Environmental Issues in East Asia: Current Situation and the Way Forwards in the perspective of Regional Cooperation" (2011), “전환기 아세안의 생존전략: 현실주의와 제도주의의 중층적 적용과 그 한계“ (2012), 『동아시아공동체: 동향과 전망』(공저, 아산정책연구원, 2014), “미-중-동남아의 남중국해 삼국지” (2015), “인도-퍼시픽, 새로운 전략 공간의 등장” (2015).