Asia Foundation to Release Foreign Policy Recommendations for Next U.S. President

Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia 2016—The Future of the Rebalance

San Francisco, October 6, 2016 — The next U.S. president must skillfully navigate a complex set of issues in Asia and immediately devote high-level attention to the region, according to a forthcoming policy report by The Asia Foundation. On November 15 in Washington D.C., the international development organization will issue its signature foreign policy initiative, Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia, on U.S. foreign policy concerns most important to the three sub-regions of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Northeast Asia.


Photo: Giulia Marchi

The 2016 election campaign has revealed concern and skepticism about American foreign policy commitments towards Asia, including signals towards anti-globalization and isolationism. Issues raised have included free trade and investment, the rise of China, territorial disputes, nuclear proliferation, and America’s presence in Afghanistan. Across the Pacific, Asian leaders are contending with a number of complex and potentially destabilizing challenges, and anxious about Washington’s political will to sustain its longstanding international security commitments. Today, the Asia-Pacific region is home to 61% of the world’s population, 15 of the world’s 30 megacities, 7 of the top U.S. trading partners, and numerous U.S. allies.

Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia is a quadrennial Asia Foundation project that promotes U.S.-Asian dialogue and formulates specific recommendations on U.S. policy towards Asia. The recommendations reflect the view that if solutions to common problems are to be found, perspectives from both sides of the Pacific need to be heard and shared. In contrast to the majority of Asia policy studies in the U.S., which limit their inquiry to American views, the Foundation’s project emphasizes Asian views.

“The Asia Foundation has a unique ability to convene key Asian and American foreign policy thinkers, and we are pleased, during this crucial transition in American leadership and international engagement, to offer valuable perspectives from established Asian experts and emerging leaders,” said Asia Foundation President David D. Arnold. “Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia: The Future of the Rebalance reflects the best thinking and policy recommendations from across Asia on the future course and direction of U.S. policy and leadership in the region.”

Presented as a set of strategic policy recommendations for the new administration to consider when it assumes office in January 2017, the report is authored by prominent policy experts, and a new generation of Asian leaders, including those from civil society and policy institutes. The recommendations were drawn from a series of closed-door, high-level meetings held April-June 2016 in Seoul, Bangkok, Colombo, and New York. Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Korean-American Association.

Asian Views

The Asian views include recommendations for economic and trade relations, including U.S. policy on China and the Trans-Pacific Partnership; security, such as on the Korean peninsula; regional architecture and institutions including ASEAN; the new South Asian geopolitical landscape reflects the rise of China; anxiety about an American withdrawal from Afghanistan; maritime law; and non-traditional security issues. These recommendations are organized in three sub-regional groups, each chaired by a prominent Asian with public policy expertise:

  • South Asia— C. Raja Mohan, Founding Director, India Centre at The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Southeast Asia—Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Professor of International Relations and Executive Director, Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS), Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
  • Northeast Asia—Yoon Young-kwan, Professor of International Relations at Seoul National University and former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea.

American Views  

The American response to the Asian views addresses issues, both regional in scope and specific to bilateral relationships, authored by American experts and former government officials with deep insight into the past record of U.S.-Asian relations and the Obama Administration’s ongoing initiatives. The project’s American task force is co-chaired by:

  • Harry Harding—University Professor and Professor of Public Policy, University of Virginia, and Visiting Professor of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  • Ellen Laipson—President Emeritus, The Stimson Center

The Future of Asia

For the first time, a new section of the report presents viewpoints from three emerging leaders, one from each sub-region, on how they envision Asia’s future and what role the U.S. might play in assisting its development. These essays, expressing Pakistani, Chinese, and Cambodian perspectives, looks far past a normal four-year American election cycle to consider Asia’s future over the next 10 to 20 years. The authors are:

  • South Asia—Wajahat Ali, Correspondent, Channel NewsAsia
  • Southeast Asia—Chheang Vannarith, Co-founder and Chairman, Cambodia Institute of Security Studies
  • Northeast Asia—Zhao Kejin, Associate Professor at the Institute of International Studies, Director of the Center for China’s Statecraft and Public Diplomacy, and Deputy Director of the Center for Sino-U.S. Relations, Tsinghua University

A series of public programs will be held in conjunction with the release of the findings in Washington, New York City and San Francisco. Asia events will follow in early 2017.

Follow Asia Foundation’s In Asia blog for interviews and a sneak peek of the report.

For embargoed copies of the report, contact the Global Communications office.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region addresses five overarching goals—strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote regional cooperation.

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