Donald Trump isn’t one to shy away from controversy or confrontation – which is why, when a trip to Asia presented itself, the President shot across the world to be even closer to the meglomaniac he’s been Twitter-goading for months. But what else do you need to know about The Donald’s Oriental odyssey?
It was the longest official trip to Asia by a US president since 1992
This was the first time in 25 years that a sitting US president had embarked on a tour of Asia. George HW Bush was the last to venture on a trip of this scale, and during that visit he infamously vomited over the then Japanese prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa at a state banquet.
Japan went all out to woo Trump
Luckily for Trump’s team, their visit to the Land of The Rising Sun was a far more elegant affair than Bush Senior’s. Prime minister Shinzo Abe warmly welcomed the American at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, before both statesmen fist-bumped and joined world no.3 golfer Hideki Matsuyama for nine holes on the green. Abe continued to appease his guest, stating that he was his “favourite golf partner” and went on to serve up a hamburger lunch due to the fact Trump infamously refused to eat “f***ing raw fish” while in Japan during the early Nineties.
Trump’s other hosts also curried favour with him
Leaders of South Korea and China also massaged The Donald’s gargantuan ego. South Korea president Moon Jae-in told his political counterpart that he was “already making America great” and later introduced him as the “leader of the world” at the National Assembly in Seoul. Chinese president Xi Jinping treated Trump to a “state visit plus”, laying out a military guard of honour that appeared to have wowed POTUS 45.
Trump also returned the favour
Reining in much of the outlandish rhetoric that helped land him a seat in the Oval Office, Trump appeared gracious towards his hosts. Notably, he labelled Xi as a “very special man” and showed a video of his granddaughter singing in Mandarin and reciting ancient Chinese poems.
Trump ignored human rights
Trump met Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte on the last leg of his trip to Asia. But rather than pressuring Duterte – a divisive figure whose bloody drug war has killed thousands -, Trump instead billed the summit as “very successful’ and hailed their “great relationship.”
There’s a new policy for handling North Korea
Barack Obama’s policy of “strategic patience” towards North Korea has often been deemed a failure by Trump. During his time in Asia, the Trump administration coined a new term for dealing with Kim Jong-un: “Maximum pressure”, which in effect signalled that the time for dialogue with the North Korean leader is now over.
“So the President’s strategy – and this strategy is in complete alignment with our allies, South Korea and Japan, and, increasingly, the entire world – is to maximise pressure,” a senior US official told reporters last week. Abe echoed these sentiments days earlier. “There is no point in dialogue for the sake of dialogue with North Korea – now is the time not for dialogue, but for applying maximum level of pressure on North Korea,” he told reporters.
Trump still aims to put America first
Despite wanting nations around the globe to rally together in a united front against North Korea, Trump is still adamant that the US will go its own way when it comes to trade.
Returning to the protectionist themes of his presidential campaign, Trump warned Pacific Rim business leaders that America would never sign a region-wide trade agreement again, telling them that “There is no place like home.”
Trump will make a “major” announcement on US trade soon
On Sunday, Trump teased political commentators by claiming that he would make a “major” announcement on trade (and even North Korea) upon his return from Asia.
“A lot of things are happening on trade and I’ll be announcing pretty much what happened here and also with other meetings, including with China, South Korea and lots of other places,” Trump said during a trilateral meeting with Abe and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.” He later added, “We’ve made some very big steps with respect to trade, far bigger than anything you know.”
This announcement is expected to be made on Wednesday.
Trump continues to side with Vladimir Putin
For over a year Trump has been interrogated by the press over Russia’s influence on the 2016 presidential election, and his line has been consistent ever since: that what he’s been told by the CIA and other intelligence agencies is false. His opinion did not change while abroad. After his brief meeting at the Asia-Pacific summit with Vladimir Putin, Trump stated that he had “good discussions” with the Russian leader and that he “absolutely did not meddle in our election.”
Trump is still retweet-worthy, even when he’s on the other side of the world
On Saturday, North Korea denounced Trump’s Asia tour, labelling it a “warmonger’s visit” and described the Republican as a “dotard” – a 14th-Century insult for an elderly person.
On Sunday evening, Trump retaliated by sending out a tweet saying that Kim Jong-un had insulted him by calling him “old”, and that he would never call Kim “short and fat.”
Trump rounded off his tweet with an incredibly mature rumination: “Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!”
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