WASHINGTON – Exit the Year of the Dog. Enter the Year of the Boar. For China’s President Xi Jinping, it might well have been a year that could not end soon enough. So, too, was the case in Japan and Indonesia, where thousands saw livelihoods, if not lives, taken by floods, mud slides, earthquakes or tsunami. But 2018 was also a year of highs, from a dazzling Winter Olympics in South Korea to the rescue of a youth football team trapped in a water-filled Thai cave.
With the arrival of 2019, uncertainty continues. A pause continues in North Korean missile tests and, for now, in escalating U.S.-China tensions as U.S. President Donald Trump seeks to re-shape economic ties and call out unfair Chinese business practices. The phrase “Asia-Pacific” also was most definitely out — perhaps too vaguely reminiscent of the faded Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” — and replaced by “Indo-Pacific,” as Trump brought his disruptive style of diplomacy to the world’s largest continent, Asia, in 2018.
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