As President George W. Bush prepares to depart for a diplomatic journey to Asia, a panel of Brookings experts will discuss what issues will be on the agenda at each stop and what results are likely to come from the trip. The common thread running through the entire mission will be the president’s effort to maintain worldwide support for his anti-terrorism war. Otherwise, there will be country-specific issues to discuss at each stop:
Japan: How the Japanese can revive their faltering economy-now approaching ten years in the doldrums-tops the agenda. Japan’s continuing economic malaise is detrimental to the regional economy and threatens to prolong the global recession. Recent developments indicate that the malaise could turn into a much more serious financial and economic crisis.
South Korea: Bush’s recent statement that North Korea is part of an “axis of evil” supporting terrorism and developing weapons of mass destruction overshadows all other issues. Finding common ground between the president’s denunciation and South Korea’s more open policy toward North Korea will be most important to Bush.
China: The president and his hosts will focus on such issues as China’s support for the counterterrorism campaign, its new membership in the World Trade Organization, environmental problems, and the threat of HIV/AIDS in China. Bush will help commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the “Shanghai Communiqué,” signed by Richard Nixon, which reopened relations between the two countries. Bush is likely to raise concerns about China’s nuclear proliferation activities, human rights record, and Beijing’s relations with Taiwan. He will also have an opportunity to meet the next generation of Chinese leaders waiting to take power over the coming year.