ANU Press Club Address: 100 Days of Trump - what should Asia do?

Monday, April 24, 2017 — The Australian National University (ANU) will launch a collection of essays evaluating the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s Presidency on Wednesday at a National Press Club Address featuring three of the University’s leading experts.

The Australian National University (ANU) will launch a collection of essays evaluating the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s Presidency today at a National Press Club Address featuring three of the University’s leading experts.

The publication - The Trump Administration’s First 100 Days: What Should Asia Do? - provides a range of perspectives on how Trump has affected Asia and how the region is likely to react.

National Press Club Address speakers:

  • Professor Michael Wesley - Dean of the College of Asia & the Pacific.
  • Dr Jane Golley - Associate Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World.
  • Professor Warwick McKibbin - Director of the Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis

Essay authors may be contacted for interview. Full essays are available here -


WHAT: National Press Club Address: The Trump Administration’s First 100 Days: What Should Asia Do?

WHERE: National Press Club of Australia 16 National Circuit, Barton

WHEN: 11:30 to 13:30 - Wednesday, 26 April

For media assistance, email or contact Aaron Walker on the ANU media hotline on 02 6125 7979 or 0418 307 213.

Essay summaries

Australia’s reactions to Trump

Professor Michael Wesley
Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Australia was largely spared the wrath directed at some of America’s closest allies by Trump prior to his election, but a heated phone call between Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made headlines globally, highlighting the need for Australia to reassess the reliability of its hitherto closest ally for at least the next four years. In typical Trump fashion, the future of the Australian-American partnership is looking harder to predict. The implications for Australia’s regional stability are similarly uncertain: should we feel alarmed or reassured?

Trump, ‘post-truth’ and regional rivalries

Associate Professor Mathew Sussex
ANU National Security College
Contact: 0402 912 461 or

Trump’s ‘post-truth’ era, a defining feature of his first 100 days, has the potential to exacerbate rivalries in the Asia Pacific region. While Trump’s politics are unpredictable, his penchant for post-truth is likely to remain a consistent strategy. Furthermore his focus on local affairs over global issues could lead to increased geopolitical tensions, particularly between China and Japan and China and Russia.

India: How the elephant got its Trump

Professor Rory Medcalf
Head of the ANU National Security College
Contact 0417 799 278, or

Dr Anthony Bergin
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

Dr David Brewster
Crawford School of Public Policy

A simplistic assessment would see the Trump Presidency as a negative strategic factor for Asia, but India takes a more pragmatic view.  Whether security problems with Pakistan or combating rivalry with China, India recognises that the United States under the Trump administration has a role to play in these challenges. While there may be some setbacks along the way, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is approaching Trump with less alarmism than many of his Indo-Pacific neighbours.

@RealDonald meet DU30

Dr Steven Rood
Visiting Fellow, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
Contact: 0416 839 556 or

Philippine-American relations after the election of Trump have softened President Duerte’s anti-American rhetoric. Both Trump and Duerte share macho ‘strong man’ similarities and are well-known for their tough stances on crime. However they will need more than just this common ground to overcome the challenges ahead – whether maritime disputes, economic mercantilism or immigration.

Climate change: Trump swaps global leadership for obstruction

Professor Frank Jotzo
Director, ANU Centre for Climate Economics and Policy
Contact: 6125 43 67 or (M) 0400 357 252. Email

Trump promised to ‘cancel’ the Paris Agreement, promotes coal, oil and gas, and has started the process to dismantle carbon emissions regulations. Taking stock of progress and prospects on climate policy after the Trump administration’s first 100 days suggests that Trump will set back the United States transition to cleaner energy and the effects will be felt internationally. But his tenure is unlikely to derail the global climate change effort and the shift to cleaner technologies that is already underway.

America’s adversary? China in American policy debates and how it affects the Trumpian approach to Asia

Dr Bates Gill
Reserch Fellow, ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre

(Note: Dr Gill is overseas and only contactable by email)

Openly demonstrating his mistrust of China throughout the presidential campaign, Trump’s position on China was no secret. His pre-inauguration phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen had diplomats the world over readying themselves for major disruptions to the global political status quo. Yet 100 days in, a consistent approach to China has been completely lacking, and in some respects, Trump has afforded more privileges to China and its leader Xi Jingping than he has to some of the United States’ most loyal allies.

A new era of geoeconomics in the Asia-Pacific region: Will Xi trump Trump?

Dr Jane Golley
Associate Director, Australian Centre on China in the world
Contact: 6125 3366 or (m) 0478486840. Email

The United States’ withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership has been Trump’s single decisive move in an otherwise unclear approach to trade in the Asia Pacific. His first three months as President have seen China emerge as the world’s new champion of free trade, not least because China stands to lose the most from Trump’s threats of protectionism. While regional players may be wary of China’s emerging regional ambition, Trump’s policies could set in motion a rebalancing away from an excessive reliance on China, and could lead to an unprecedented manufacturing boom in the region’s other economies.

The Trump administration and nuclear stability

Dr Benjamin Zala
Research Fellow, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
Contact: 0458 756 375 or

Trump has been clear on his desire to pump up United States military might, but his statements on nuclear weapons in particular have been cause for worry since early in his candidacy. His adamant insistence that he can forge a better deal than his predecessor on nuclear agreements made with Russia and Iran relies on assumptions that the Obama administration’s efforts were insufficient. His prowess at the negotiating table remains unverified at this stage in his presidency. At the same time, the positions of members of his closest inner circle are less than clear when it comes to nuclear hypotheticals. Does this uncertainty provide Australia with an opportunity to play a larger role in regional stability?

Implications for ASEAN

Associate Professor Dr Brendan Taylor
Head of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
Contact: 6125 9928, or email

While his criticisms of multi-member international organisations such as NATO and the United Nations have been loud and frequent, Trump has made next to no mention of his stance on the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Previous administrations have been criticised for their lack of focus on the region, with concerns that China has ambitions to fill the leadership void that could arise in ASEAN’s increasingly evident disunity. The new President’s ‘America first’ approach to foreign policy may accelerate the apparent shift towards multipolarity in Southeast Asia, with the implication that Australia will be more exposed to risks associated with the changing power dynamic.

Can Japan’s golden golf diplomacy win over Trump?

Dr David Envall
Research Fellow, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
Contact: 6125 0190, or email

As was the case with many of America’s allies, Trump’s election victory raised numerous questions in Tokyo about the future of United States-Japan relations, particularly with respect to Japan’s support for former President Obama’s ‘pivot’ to Asia. Despite what has been observed as early diplomatic successes of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, concerns remain that Trump is willing to sideline Japan’s interests in his efforts to negotiate better diplomatic outcomes for America.

Strategic resoluteness: The Chinese approach to the Trump administration

Dr Feng Zhang
Fellow, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
Contact: 6125 3341 or email

Despite its status as one of the most frequent targets in then-candidate Trump’s American nationalist rhetoric, China and its leadership have been strategic to avoid stoking the flames of contention between the two powers since the election in early November. And until the now-infamous congratulatory call from Taiwanese President Tsa Ing-wen shortly after Trump’s electoral win, the prospect of drastic changes in American foreign policy were met with welcome and optimism for some members of Beijing’s political elite. Five months on and despite this major hiccough, stability remains the key to China’s exchanges with Washington.


Trump and development: aid, migration and the Beijing Consensus

Professor Stephen Howes
Director, Development Policy Centre
Contact: 6125 7553, or email

Professor Robin Davies
Professorial Fellow, Crawford School of Public Policy

While foreign aid allocations have received support in the Republican-controlled United States Congress, Trump has indicated his intention to slash American aid by one third. Given the general view of his traditional voter base when it comes to foreign aid, it is not difficult to imagine Trump overseeing huge spending reductions in this area over the coming years. With so many multilateral organisations relying on the United States for the largest share of their funding, the implications will be far-reaching, and could signal the unravelling of global agreements and institutions.

Trump and Japanese-Korean relations: Managing the train wreck

Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki
School of Culture, History and Language
Contact: 6125 2277,

Trump’s ascendency to the role of Commander-in-Chief comes at a time of unsettlement in Northeast Asia. As Japan toys with right-wing historic revisionism and potential changes to its pacifist constitution, South Korea is on track to elect a centre-left replacement for its recently-impeached President. With North Korea already testing its missile capabilities in the early stages of the Trump administration, the future of the region relies on the other powers getting along.

Trump, trade, and integration: Could an Asian coalition protect the global economic order?

Dr Shiro Armstrong
Crawford School of Public Policy
Contact: 6125 0572 or email

Trump was elected on an anti-free trade platform and swiftly followed through on his promise to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but all hope is not lost for champions of liberal economics. The task now for leaders in the Asia Pacific is to muster support for globalisation, and take the most favourable elements of the TPP and implement it unilaterally.

What Trump means for the global economy

Professor Warwick McKibbin
Head of the ANU Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis

Contact: 6125 0301 or email

The popularity of Trump in rural America was a strong reflection of discontent with the global economic order. It was on the back of this discontent that Trump was elected and his promises to scrap free trade agreements and expel undocumented immigrants remain popular with his base. But it is difficult to imagine Trump’s stated economic agenda actually delivering benefits to Trumpland – indeed, US export industries would come under even more pressure. And when America sneezes, it will be Asia and Australia that catch a cold.

Trump and energy: Implications for global and Asia-Pacific markets

Associate Professor Llewelyn Hughes
College of Asia and the Pacific
Contact: 6125 3861 or email

One central tenet of Trump’s presidential campaign was an insistence on ramping up domestic production of oil and gas. His administration has also made clear their distaste for cleaner energy resources. But what are the implications for global energy markets? Simple economic factors will limit the effectiveness of his plans with negative impacts to fall on United States citizens.