Brief from Engaging Asia

Fluid Dynamics of the Indo-Pacific
Congressional Oversight of U.S. Asia Policy

by Frank Jannuzi
February 19, 2019

This is part of the brief series “Key U.S. Policy Issues in the Indo-Pacific for the 116th Congress.” The purpose of these briefs is to provide members of Congress and their staff with a concise, readable primer on what are likely to be among the key U.S. policy issues in the Indo-Pacific for the 116th Congress. This is not a comprehensive compendium. Rather, the briefs aim to raise the issues that will likely occupy Congressional interest over the next two years.

Executive Summary


The 116th Congress has a key role to play in exercising oversight on U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific. As the geostrategic center of power, the Indo-Pacific region requires policy attention to both the vital issues included in the U.S. National Security Strategy—namely the threats emanating from China, Russia, and North Korea—and the omitted but critical issue of climate change. Rather than devising a strategy to win a zero-sum struggle with China or Russia, the U.S. should identify ways to advance its own interests, especially when these goals align with those of other powers. Washington can build on common ground to address the near-term threat of North Korea and the slow-moving but urgent crisis of climate change.

  • Convene hearings on U.S.-China relations to test assumptions and identify potential areas for cooperation.
  • Support reconvening the six-party talks to pursue North Korean denuclearization and to coordinate regional security efforts in Northeast Asia.
  • Appropriate funds to resource civil-society programs that strengthen U.S. capacity to engage Indo-Pacific nations.
  • Hold hearings to consider the provisions of the Green New Deal, which bears implications for energy policy and for U.S.-China relations.

Frank Jannuzi is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mansfield Foundation. He previously served as Deputy Executive Director (Advocacy, Policy and Research) at Amnesty International, USA. From 1997 to 2012, Mr. Jannuzi was Policy Director, East Asian and Pacific Affairs, for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he advised committee chairmen Joseph Biden and John Kerry. He has also served as an analyst in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.