More than ten weeks after his confirmation as the new United States Secretary of State, John Kerry finally went to Asia. The former Massachusetts senator stopped in South Korea, Japan, and China over the busy weekend, the first time an American Secretary of State visited all three nations in the same trip. Kerry's visit also coincided with the escalating crisis on the Korean Peninsula, a subject of increasing concern for Washington.
But zooming out a bit, Kerry's visit also provides a fresh opportunity to examine the "Pivot to Asia", one of the Obama Administration's central foreign policy initiatives. Simply put, the pivot is meant to be a strategic "re-balancing" of U.S. interests from Europe and the Middle East toward East Asia. But what does that really mean, in practice? To further explore the "Pivot to Asia", here's a handy Q&A:
Why did the Obama Administration launch this pivot? And what does it entail, in practice?
Closer relations between the Washington and Asia aren't new -- trade between the continent and the United States, and between the U.S. and China in particular, has exploded in the past two decades, so in a way the "Pivot to Asia" is just placing a name on a trend that has been going on for years.