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How Trump is driving Asian powers together

10 1 9

Might the next batch of “make alliance even greater” hats Tokyo orders bear the name Chinese President Xi Jinping instead of his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump?

Events in Vietnam over the weekend make you wonder. There were two dominant headlines from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Danang. One, President Trump’s pivot away not just from Asia, but the post-World War II global trade system. Two, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe basking in a huge Trans-Pacific Partnership win at stark odds with Trump’s “always put America first” crouch.

Yet a third narrative that got less attention may be equally impactful: Abe and Xi getting together. At a Nov. 11 meeting, Xi said he craves “positive developments” in relations; Abe said he’ll “strongly promote” deeper cooperation.

This isn’t what the punditariat envisioned last month when both men consolidated power at home. Abe’s Oct. 22 win was seen as his ticket to single-mindedly revising the war-renouncing Constitution, damn Beijing’s feelings. As Xi “thought” was enshrined into Chinese Communist Party doctrine, many assumed the next five years would see Beijing marginalizing Japan’s Asian role.

Granted, these hunches could still prove correct. And, it’s worth noting, we’ve seen this movie before — Abe and Xi making nice,........

© The Japan Times