The 107th Congress: Asia Pacific Policy Outlook
The 107th Congress will be confronted by a number of issues involving the Asia Pacific region. Perhaps most important, the Bush administration will make a concerted effort to revitalize the US-Japan relationship as the cornerstone of US engagement in the region. China will remain a subject of debate on Capitol Hill, but the end of the annual battle over extending normal trade relations status to China may give the Bush administration a chance to forge broader congressional consensus on China policy. National and theater missile defense development will be pursued by the new administration, and significant debate will take place on Capitol Hill over the ramifications of NMD and TMD for the Asia Pacific. While Congress and the new administration may seek a tougher line against North Korea, South Korean President Kim Dae Jung’s commitment to his "sunshine policy" will constrain new departures in US policy. Regarding the Association for Southeast Asian Nations, the US-Vietnam bilateral trade agreement will be considered and is likely to be approved by Congress, while the new administration will continue to pursue a US-Singapore free trade agreement. The fate of Indonesia will remain a concern, and President Bush will seek to upgrade ties with other partners in Southeast Asia as well as with Australia and the Pacific Islands.