How will Trump’s administration tackle Asia-Pacific issues?

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Jim Mattis,Tomomi Inada U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, left, and Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada pose for a photo prior to their meeting at Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. (Franck Robichon/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis concluded visits to South Korea and Japan this week. It was the first foreign tour by a senior official from the Trump administration. Many see it as revealing the new administration’s foreign policies in the Asia-Pacific region. CGTN’s Feng Xin takes a look.

How will Trump's administration tackle Asia-Pacific issues?

How will Trump's administration tackle Asia-Pacific issues?

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis concluded visits to South Korea and Japan this week. It was the first foreign tour by a senior official from the Trump administration. Many see it as revealing the new administration's foreign policies in the Asia-Pacific region. CGTN's Feng Xin takes a look.

For South Korea and Japan, it was all about reassurance. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis stood hand-in-hand – and shoulder-to-shoulder with these two nations.

In Japan, Mattis said the U.S. will support Japan’s control of the disputed Diaoyu Islands under a defense treaty, in spite of China’s territorial sovereignty over the islands, which Japan calls, Senkaku.

On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said: “China is urging the U.S. to take a responsible attitude, stop making false remarks, and avoid making the issue more complicated and bringing instability to the regional situation.”

On Thursday, Mattis said the Trump administration will help defend its ally South Korea from DPRK’s missile threats. This will include deploying a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, in South Korea.

“I will talk to them about THAAD, absolutely. It’s a defense system. There is only one reason why I have to talk to them about it and that is North Korea’s activity,” said Matthis.

But Beijing worries the THAAD system might be used by the U.S. to spy on China.

Lu Kang, spokesman for the Chinese foreign Ministry believes this action will damage the strategic security interests of countries in the region, including China, and also harm the strategic balance of the region.

All of this is causing some to wonder whether the Trump administration is following President Obama’s so-called “pivot to Asia,” and perhaps even upgrading it.

Sung-Yoon Lee, Korean studies professor at Tufts University, thinks Mr. Trump is sending a message to Japan and South Korea, reassuring these allies, also sending a message to China that ‘we are going to be firm.’

“This is not separate from the message coming out of the White House,” said Sung. “So, the Trump administration is striking a hardline pose at the moment.”

As the Trump administration’s foreign policy in the Asia Pacific region is emerging, its implications on China will become clearer.