Three government professors said they are concerned that there has been a dearth of discussion about United States-Asia relations in this year’s presidential election at a panel discussion Thursday.
The speakers — Prof. Allen Carlson, Prof. Thomas Pepinsky and Prof. Jessica Chen Weiss — all agreed that the United States’ relationship with Asia could have a significant impact on foreign policy in coming years.
“The next administration is going to face a particularly complicated set of challenges not only with China but also with partners and allies in Asia, such as the Philippines, Thailand, Korea and Indonesia,” Pepinsky said.
Pepinsky cited Indonesia as an example of a crucial strategic partner in Southeast Asia that has not been “remarked on at all in the current presidential debates.”
“U.S.-Indonesian relations are important because Indonesia is viewed as good offices for negotiations with the Muslim world, as a good example of the type of Muslim democracy with which the United States likes to have partnerships with,” he said. “Cooperation with these countries is important for the United States.”
The absence of extended consideration of U.S.-Asia relations in the current election cycle has been “worrisome,” Carlson agreed.
“The way things unfold in Asia may have consequence not only in terms of economics, but also in terms of the security of relationships between the United States, China and other Asian countries,” he said.
The panelists also discussed how this election could affect perceptions of democracy in Asia, specifically in developing countries.
“There is some spillover coming from this election that is not just poisoning us, but has a broadly corrosive effect in Asia, especially new and establishing democracies,” Carlson said.
Weiss addressed the Chinese government’s response to the election, saying the government has been paying “close attention to the campaign rhetoric” of the candidates.
“It is one of many indicators the Chinese government uses to ascertain whether there is going to be change or continuity in American policy with China,” she said.
Although Carlson said this election cycle has primarily focused on domestic policy, Weiss emphasized that “this kind of rhetoric reverberates around the world.”
Carlson called U.S.-Asia relations a “major issue,” urging students to keep the dynamics of foreign policy in mind when voting this November.