United States President Donald Trump is coming to the Philippines this November 2017 to participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit.
No less than US Vice President Mike Pence confirmed this during a visit to the ASEAN headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia last April 19. Trump will also attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam to be held in the same month.
According to Pence, the Trump administration would “work with ASEAN on security issues and trade and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.” It is likely that one of the topics that will be discussed is China’s continued aggressive moves in asserting its territorial claims.
Trump’s visit comes exactly a year after his shocking victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which was widely expected to win based on all national and local polls.
Unlike Clinton who is very well-versed in foreign policy and is one of the architects of former President Barack Obama’s “pivot to Asia” initiative, Trump often advocates a more limited role for America in the world stage although his rather incoherent foreign policy has received criticism various observers.
Of course, the international press would be closely watching a likely meeting between Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Even before they won their respective presidential race last year, Trump and Duterte have often been compared to each other because of their propensity for brash off-the-cuff remarks and mercurial personality. Their phone conversation last December has been described as “very engaging” and “animated” in news reports.