US President Donald Trump set to miss a series of summits in Asia
Washington, Nov 12: US President Donald Trump is set to miss a series of summits that are lined up in Asia and will send his deputy Vice President Mike Pence to attend them instead. For observers, this could see China gaining an opportunity to gain a more prominent headline instead of the 'retreating' US.
The first of the summits that Trump, who will complete two years in office in January 2019, will be held in Singapore on November 13-15. The meetings, hosted annually by the 10-member Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) cover a wide range of issues - from territorial disputes to wildlife conservation.
The focus next shifts to Papua New Guinea (PNG) where the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) will meet. This is more of a summit on economic and trade affairs. While other world leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in will be attending the Asean meetings in Singapore, Chinese President Xi Jinping will only attend the APEC summit in PNG.
Pence lashed out at China recently
On Pence's presence, the US vice-president was recently in the headlines for blasting China which according to many flagged off a new Cold War. It is unlikely that he would have any meaningful meeting with Chinese officials at those Asian summits and make way for a positive meeting between Trump and Xi on G20 platform in Argentina a little later.
In a statement announcing Pence's trip, the White House said the vice president would "deliver the message that authoritarianism, aggression, and the disregard for other nations' sovereignty by any nation in the Indo-Pacific will not be tolerated by the United States."
Though the American president skipping the events is not something unprecedented, Trump's absence from them certainly adds more the uncertainty over his regime's policy vis-à-vis areas where China's rise has been alarming and whether the US is interested to maintain its commitments, even to its allies.