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Trump faces hard sell on new Asia policy at APEC summit

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Trump faces hard sell on new Asia policy at APEC summit
 Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam - A new policy for Asia that President Donald Trump is expected to bill at a summit in Vietnam will do little to assuage mounting concerns about US commitment to a region increasingly weary of his capricious and erratic diplomacy, analysts say. 
At the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, starting on Friday, Trump will promote the vaguely defined concept of a "free and open Indo-Pacific region". Japan first floated this idea, tailored to push the United States to coalesce three other maritime democracies - Japan, Australia, and India - to contain a rising China.  
In the words of American officials, this sales pitch is aimed at demonstrating the Trump administration's commitment to the Indo-Pacific region. It also seeks to deflect criticism on Trump's fixation with North Korea during his 12-day, five-nation Asia tour. 
"The idea of a 'free and open Indo-Pacific' under the Trump administration is the antithesis of most everything Trump has promoted," said Dennis C McCornac, an economics professor at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore. "The only support for an open region is the flow of military equipment to those who seem to support efforts to counter North Korea and China," McCornac said. 
"Trump trying to convince others that he supports a 'free and open Indo-Pacific' would require the same type of 'snake oil' sales job that Trump used with his so-called university, his wall that Mexico will pay for as well as his other campaign promises that turned out to be completely false." 
While "Indo-Pacific" could be considered another catchphrase to supplant former US president Barack Obama's "pivot to Asia", Trump has used his "America first" policy to take a sledgehammer to the legacy built by his predecessor in the region. Chief among his moves is withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a mammoth US-led trade deal whose 12 members make up nearly 40 percent of global GDP.