WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump laid out his first foreign policy before the American nation on Monday, identifying three main sets of challenges to the United States and its partners that come from China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and jihadist terrorists.

The main thrust of the policy, however, is on China, which has been relegated from the status of a “strategic partner” to a “revisionist” strategic competitor — a shift that will be particularly testing for Pakistan as it wants to maintain good relations with both powers.

As President Trump read out his policy paper from the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, his own foreign policy chief, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, did not show up to hear him

Later, the White House issued a statement, saying Mr Tillerson had “other plans” and that’s why he could not come, but the US media referred to recent reports of serious differences between President Trump and his foreign policy czar and to the possibility that he was on his way out.

Mr Trump, however, continued to focus on his foreign policy agenda, despite the absence of his top diplomat.

“Three main sets of challengers — the revisionist powers of China and Russia; the rogue states of Iran and North Korea; and transnational threat organisations, particularly jihadist terrorist groups — are actively competing against the United States and its allies and partners,” said the document Mr Trump presented before his nation.

“Although differing in nature and magnitude, these rivals compete across political, economic, and military arenas, and use technology and information to accelerate these contests, in order to shift regional balances of power in their favour.” The new policy also repeats a pledge that President Trump made in its recent speeches — not to impose American values on others. “We are not going to impose our values on others,” it declares.

The paper says that the United States bases its partnerships with other states on policies that “enable us to achieve our goals while our partners achieve theirs”.

The document depicts both China and Russia as “revisionist powers” that seek to change the global status quo, but China is marked out as a greater threat.

“China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity,” said Mr Trump.

Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2017

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