Pham Minh Thu

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Three levels of analysis (individuals, nation states and international system) which have been widely recognized in  foreign policy are applicable in explaining whether the Trump Administration has actually had a policy in the East Sea. At individual level, President Trump first announced the U.S. “Free and Open Indo – Pacific Strategy” in November 2017, in which the East Sea is known as an important factor of security pillar to preserve vitality of free and open air and maritime space in the region. It was then echoed at national level by national strategies, including the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy and National Military Strategy. Also, members of the U.S. Cabinet and Congress have shown support for the Indo – Pacific Strategy in general and the U.S. policy in the East Sea in particular. In order to cope up with China’s assertiveness in this waterway at systematic level, the Trump Administration has unceasingly projected considerable its power, including increasing military presence and regional maritime capacity building efforts as well as frequent freedom of navigations (FONOPS).  In the context that territorial disputes remain complex and unforeseeable, it is valuable to have a thorough look at the Trump’s East Sea policy for claimants in this water, including Viet Nam.