Donald Trump has had enough of Asia. After a long overseas trip that saw him visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and finally the Philippines, Trump was so anxious to get home that he decided to simply not attend the plenary session of the summit of Asia leaders he was scheduled to join because it was running late.
The session was about three hours behind schedule, so Trump dumped the Asian leaders after a group lunch and headed to the Manila airport to hop on Air Force One to return to the U.S. Apparently, no amount of extreme vetting can prevent his re-entry to the country.
Trump gave the speech he had intended to give at the plenary session at the luncheon instead and sent Secretary of State Rex (“Rexxon”) Tillerson to the meeting in his stead.
“Oh, the lunch was great,” Trump said to reporters aboard Air Force One. “Everybody was there. They were delayed three hours, as you probably heard. There was a delay for some reason. But we had a lunch, and they let me make my opening — my ending remarks at the lunch. So that was really great.”
Trump went on to crow about what a huge success his Asian trip had been, bragging about producing $300 billion in business deals and improving relations with Asian leaders (with the exception of Kim Jon-Un, of course.)
“We’ve explained that the United States is open for trade, but we want reciprocal trade,” Trump said. “We want fair trade for the United States, because with past administrations — as I said in China and I said very loud and very clear — the United States has been taken advantage of.”
While Trump blames everyone for not being fair, the rest of the Asian economic community is moving along with him and the United States. They are continuing a version of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal without American participation and virtually handing the mantle of Asian leadership to China, a situation that supporters of the deal carefully negotiated by the administration of former President Obama warned would happen if Trump pulled out of the deal.
If any message can be gleaned from the President’s Asian journey, it’s that Trump’s “America first” policy is rapidly leading to America last, at least in the minds of Asia leaders.