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The Obama Administration’s Pivot to Asia

Rebalancing the United States' Role in the Asia-Pacific Region

Task Force 2016

Assessing the Obama Administration's Pivot to Asia


Thomas J. Christensen

William P. Boswell Professor of World Politics of Peace and War, Princeton University; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (2006-2008)

Faculty Adviser

Clark Sorensen

Clark Sorensen

Professor Emeritus

Task Force

  • Alex Atwater
  • Creighton Barry
  • Hyeokjin Choi
  • Andy Chung
  • Kate Clark
  • Luke Coppenrath
  • Sean Dolan
  • Emily Fung
  • Stephanie Hansen
  • Jinghe Huang
  • Athiyya Husniyah
  • Dorothy Kim
  • Elissa Lee
  • Alvin Loong
  • Brent Reininger
  • Sarah Stewart
  • Ruidi Wang
  • Chen Fan Wu

The “Pivot to Asia” signals a return of the U.S.’s attention to the Asia-Pacific, a region that has seen both rapid economic expansion and a possibility for conflict. The U.S. is interested in joining Asia’s economic prosperity while mitigating military tensions. However, there are widespread suspicions of a containment strategy within American foreign policy in response to the rise of China. What will happen in the future?



  • China views the “Pivot to Asia” as a containment policy
  • Regional partners desire continued American engagement
  • Global and regional affairs require increased bilateral and multilateral cooperation


  • North Korean nuclear proliferation poses a destabilizing threat to Northeast Asia
  • Territorial disputes in regional waters challenge American interests and conflict with maritime principles


  • High economic potential throughout the region demand proactive American involvement
  • Lack of American-led economic partnerships reduce regional economic leadership
  • Greater interregional cooperation is necessary to ensure stability in the global economy


  • ENCOURAGE REFORM in multilateral trade agreements to protect and advance U.S. investment and trade in the Asia-Pacific region and foster an inclusive economic environment
  • INCREASE TRANSPARENCY and accountability via binding agreements in order to mitigate interregional mistrust and ensure long-standing, stable partnerships
  • STRENGTHEN REGIONAL ALLIANCES bilaterally and multilaterally through strategic military fortification and intensified diplomatic dialogues
  • PROVIDE LEADERSHIP on economic and political issues facing the Asia-Pacific region to bolster U.S. inclusion and relevance



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