Key Asia Issues in the 2016 Presidential Campaign

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Lead researchers: Sarah Wang, and Alex Forster. Past assistance by Melissa Newcomb, Nate Schlabach, Anna Scott Bell, Meghana Nerurkar, and Patrick Madaj. For methodology, click here.

A number of Asia Pacific issues have featured in the 2016 presidential campaign or have the potential to shape the foreign policy debate as it relates to the Asia Pacific region.

Allies/Partners in the Asia Pacific  China Human Rights and Democracy in Asia
North Korea Rebalance to Asia South China Sea After the Arbitration Ruling 
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)    

To see summaries of each of the 2016 presidential hopefuls with a focus on each candidate's experience with Asia, including their travel, policy work, and views on important topics relating to the Asia Pacific region, please follow these links or click here. To compare the Democratic and Republican Party platforms on key Asia issues, please click here

Hillary Clinton Tim Kaine
Mike Pence Donald Trump


Allies/Partners in the Asia PacificImage: US Navy

Notable quotes for this topic could not be found for Mike Pence (R)

Hillary Clinton (D) - "We had hundreds of thousands of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our best allies and friends in Europe and Asia were really put out with us because of the way they'd been treated by the Bush administration and were very skeptical that the United States was a good ally any longer and wanted to lead the world toward peace, prosperity and security. I spent so much of my time getting back the confidence and the trust of our friends and allies around the world." [Source] CNN Iowa Democratic Presidential Town Hall, January 25. 2016 

"[The Philippines] are a treaty ally. We have a mutual defense pact. The Philippines are helping themselves but they are also asking help from the United States, which I'm very pleased we are giving to [the Philippines]. So you can count on me to protect the interest in the South China Sea because it's important that these disputes be handled in a diplomatic and legal matter not by force or seizure." [Source] ABS-CBN News Interview. February 24, 2016 

“And it’s no small thing when he [Donald Trump] suggests that America should withdraw our military support for Japan, encourage them to get nuclear weapons, and said this about a war between Japan and North Korea – and I quote – “If they do, they do. Good luck, enjoy yourself, folks.” I wonder if he even realizes he’s talking about nuclear war.” [Source] Speech on Donald Trump and National Security. June 2, 2016 

"Take the threat posed by North Korea – perhaps the most repressive regime on the planet, run by a sadistic dictator who wants to develop long-range missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon to the United States. When I was Secretary of State, we worked closely with our allies Japan and South Korea to respond to this threat, including by creating a missile defense system that stands ready to shoot down a North Korean warhead, should its leaders ever be reckless enough to launch one at us. The technology is ours. Key parts of it are located on Japanese ships. All three countries contributed to it. And this month, all three of our militaries will run a joint drill to test it. That’s the power of allies.” [SourceSpeech on Donald Trump and National Security. June 2, 2016 

“Well, let me -- let me start by saying, words matter. Words matter when you run for president. And they really matter when you are president. And I want to reassure our allies in Japan and South Korea and elsewhere that we have mutual defense treaties and we will honor them. It is essential that America's word be good. And so I know that this campaign has caused some questioning and worries on the part of many leaders across the globe. I've talked with a number of them. But I want to -- on behalf of myself, and I think on behalf of a majority of the American people, say that, you know, our word is good.” [Source] First Presidential Debate, Hofstra University. September 27, 2016 

“The United States has kept the peace -- the United States has kept the peace through our alliances. Donald wants to tear up our alliances. I think it makes the world safer and, frankly, it makes the United States safer. I would work with our allies in Asia, in Europe, in the Middle East, and elsewhere. That's the only way we're going to be able to keep the peace.” [Source] Final Presidential Debate. University of Nevada, Las Vegas. October 19, 2016

*Tim Kaine (D) “It was an honor to hear Prime Minister Modi’s vision for India before a joint session of Congress in the U.S. Capitol today. With the strategic importance of the U.S.-India relationship growing every year, I’ve been encouraged by increased cooperation on defense issues between our two countries, including the ongoing discussions regarding aircraft carrier technology. As we continue to foster stability and combat terrorism in the Indo-Asia Pacific region, continued collaboration and expansion of multilateral exercises with our regional partners will be absolutely critical. I also applaud India’s commitment to addressing climate change through the Paris Agreement, in which India committed to using technology innovation to grow its economy while reducing its carbon footprint.” [Source] Remarks Following Indian Prime Minister Modi's Visit to the United States While Serving as a Senator for Virginia. June 8, 2016

Donald Trump (R)"So the young man from North Korea starts acting up and having one of his fits, we immediately get our ships going. We get our aircraft. We get nothing for this...I'm not saying that we're going to let anything happen to them. But [South Korea has] to help us.: [SourceNBC's Meet the Press Interview. August 16, 2015 

"If somebody attacks Japan, we have to immediately go and start World War III, OK? If we get attacked, Japan doesn't have to help us. Somehow, that doesn't sound so fair. Does that sound good?" [SourceCampaign Rally in Hilton Head, South Carolina. December 30, 2015 

“I would want South Korea to pay us a lot of money. […] I just ordered 4,000 television sets, 4,000, they come from South Korea, a money machine, they pay us peanuts. We’re defending them and I have many friends from South Korea, they buy my apartments, I do business with them, but South Korea should pay us and pay us very substantially for protecting them." [SourceCNN. January 6, 2016

“We have 28,000 soldiers on the line in South Korea between the mad-man [Kim Jong-un] and them. We get practically nothing compared to the cost for this.” [Source] NBC's Meet the Press Interview. January 10, 2016

“Japan, the same thing. They are devaluing -- it's so impossible for -- you look at Caterpillar Tractor and what's happening with Caterpillar and Kamatsu (ph). Kamatsu (ph) is a tractor company in Japan. Friends of mine are ordering Kamatsu (ph) tractors now because they've de-valued the yen to such an extent that you can't buy a Caterpillar tractor. And we're letting them get away with it and we can't let them get away with it.” [Source] 6th Republican Debate. January 14, 2016 

“One thing I'd like to add to what the Governor [Kasich]'s saying, I think that we are now in a position -- are $19 trillion dollars because of the horrible omnibus budget that was approved six weeks ago, it's going to be $21 trillion dollars. We can no longer defend all of these countries, Japan, Germany, South Korea.” [Source] CNN/Telemundo Debate. February 25, 2016 

“Our military is depleted. But we take care of Germany, we take care of Saudi Arabia, we take care of Japan, we take care of South Korea. We take -- every time this maniac from North Korea does anything, we immediately send our ships. We get virtually nothing. We have 28,000 soldiers on the line, on the border between North and South Korea. We have so many places. Saudi Arabia was making a billion dollars a day, and we were getting virtually nothing to protect them. We are going to be in a different world.”  [Source] Republican Debate in Miami, Florida. March 15, 2016 

“You know, South Korea is very rich. Great industrial country. And yet we’re not reimbursed fairly for what we do. We’re constantly, you know, sending our ships, sending our planes, doing our war games, doing other. We’re reimbursed a fraction of what this is all costing.” [Source] Meeting with Washington Post Editorial Board. March 21, 2016

“Look. I have great relationships with South Korea. I have buildings in South Korea. But that’s a wealthy country. They make the ships, they make the televisions, they make the air conditioning. They make tremendous amounts of products. It’s a huge, it’s a massive industrial complex country.  And […] I think that we are not in the position that we used to be. I think we were a very powerful, very wealthy country. And we’re a poor country now. We’re a debtor nation. How you going to get rid – let me ask you – how are you going get rid of $21 trillion in debt? You’re going to be at 21 trillion in a matter of minutes because of that new omnibus budget. So they passed that ridiculous omnibus budget. How you going to get rid of that debt. We’re spending that to protect other countries. We’re not spending it on ourselves.” [SourceMeeting with Washington Post Editorial Board. March 21, 2016

“Yes, I would. I would not do so happily, but I would be willing to [withdraw US troops from Japan and South Korea]. Not happily. David actually asked me that question before, this morning before we sort of finalized out. The answer is not happily but the answer is yes. We cannot afford to be losing vast amounts of billions of dollars on all of this. We just can’t do it anymore. Now there was a time when we could have done it. When we started doing it. But we can’t do it anymore. And I have a feeling that they’d up the ante very much. I think they would, and if they wouldn’t I would really have to say yes.” [Source] Telephone Interview with The New York Times. March 26, 2016 

“And if we say to Japan we need help, you have to help us, because we can’t continue to lose a fortune defending you—you have to be prepared to walk. You have to be prepared. That doesn’t mean I want them to arm, but it’s possible. You know, there’s a group of people that are very smart people, that say maybe it’s better for us if Japan pays their own way, they arm, and they take care of North Korea instead of us taking care of it.” [Source] Campaign Event in Wisconsin. April 3, 2016

“Frankly, if you look at NATO, many of those 28 countries are not living up to their obligation of payig us so we’re protecting NATO, we’re protecting these countries and they’re not paying up. We’re protecting Japan—and I love Japan we’re gonna continue to protect Japan hopefully, but you always have to prepared to walk. […] Well let me ask you, [Japan is] paying 50% of the cost to defend themselves, why don’t they pay 100%?” [Source] Rolling Thunder Memorial Day Speech. May 29, 2016 

“Hillary Clinton came out and said ‘That’s terrible he’s [Trump] not going to stick with our allies.’ We’re going to stick. But once the ally hears her dumb talk, ‘cause it’s dumb, why would they ever pay? When they hear that she will stick. […] So, you go and you want to negotiate with, let’s say, Japan. And, you know, there are a lot of problems over there because you have North Korea and he’s [Kim Jong Un] always threatening the area, he’s always threatening Japan and South Korea with 28,000 soldiers on the boarder. But let’s say Hillary Clinton makes this statement ‘We will never abandon our allies.’ And I think those statements are beautiful, I think they are great. One problem. When you go in and say ‘We will never ever abandon you, but you have to pay us more money.’ They are going to say ‘We aren’t going to pay you more money, if you’re not going to abandon us.’ You always have to be prepared to walk. I don’t think we’d walk, I don’t think it’s going to be necessary, it could be though. Could be that Japan will have to defend itself against North Korea.” [Source] Rally in Des Moines, Iowa. August 5, 2016

“One of the generals got up not so long ago and said ‘Doesn’t Mr. Trump know that Japan pays 50% of the cost of the defense?’ […] I said ‘Why don’t they pay 100%?’ You know what you are talking about in money? […] And for years I’ve our military budget is many, many times more than China, more than everybody else and I used to say ‘That’s good.’ […] It is because we protect all these countries. And that’s okay, I think that’s great, but they have to pay. They have to pay. Because this isn’t 40 years ago, they have to pay.” [Source] Rally in Des Moines, Iowa. August 5, 2016

“You know, we have a treaty with Japan where if Japan is attacked we have to use the full force and might of the United States. If we’re attacked Japan doesn’t have to do anything. They can sit home and watch Sony television. What kind of deals are these? […] These deals are by people, it’s got to be a two-way street, these deals are by people that don’t know what they’re doing.” [Source] Rally in Des Moines, Iowa. August 5, 2016

“Let’s talk about South Korea for a moment, because it so perfectly illustrates the broken promises that have hurt so many American workers. President Obama, and the usual so-called experts who’ve been wrong about every trade deal for decades, predicted that the trade deal with South Korea would increase our exports to South Korea by more than $10 billion – resulting in some 70,000 jobs. Like Hillary Clinton’s broken promises to New York, these pledges all turned out to be false. Instead of creating 70,000 jobs, it has killed nearly 100,000, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Our exports to South Korea haven’t increased at all, but their imports to us have surged more than $15 billion – more than doubling our trade deficit with that country.” [Source] Economic Speech in Detroit, Michigan. August 9, 2016

“And it's a big problem. And as far as Japan is concerned, I want to help all of our allies, but we are losing billions and billions of dollars. We cannot be the policemen of the world. We cannot protect countries all over the world...” [Source] First Presidential Debate, Hofstra University. September 27, 2016

“Hillary's Korea deal, South Korea, cost us another 100,000 jobs. Remember that? It was supposed to be a good deal. It cost us jobs, tremendous numbers of jobs. And South Korea, like almost every other country, is laughing at how stupid we are.” [Source] Campaign Rally in Henderson, Nevada. October 5, 2016 

“Generations of Indian and Hindu-Americans have strengthened our country and strengthened it like few people could ever even believe, your values of hard work, education and enterprise have truly enriched our nation and we will be celebrating a Trump administration together. Indian Americans have the highest rate of entrepreneurship and college graduation in our country. That’s pretty impressive by the way, you don’t hear that often I will tell you. A Trump administration will massively lower taxes for our small businesses, eliminating job-killing regulations and we will repeal and replace job-killing Obamacare which is a disaster.” [Source] Speech to Republican Hindu Coalition. October 15, 2016 

“But as we all know we can’t have prosperity without security, and that is why we appreciate the great friend India has been to the United States in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism, a word that our president doesn’t even use. […] India has seen firsthand the brutality of terrorism and cross-border violence, including the attacks in Mumbai and, I mean look, Mumbai is a place that I love, it’s a place that I understand so for all of the people in Mumbai the attack on Indian parliament absolutely outrageous and terrible. We will defeat radical Islamic terrorism. When I am president we will stand shoulder to shoulder with India in sharing intelligence and keeping our people safe, mutually. This is so important in the age of ISIS, the barbaric threat Hillary Clinton has unleashed onto the entire world. India is key and a key strategic ally and we don’t want to even talk about it because there’s nothing like the relationship that we will have. I look forward to deepening the diplomatic and military cooperation that is the shared interest of both countries. India is the world’s largest democracy, an amazing statement, and is a natural ally of the United States. Under a Trump administration, we are going to become even better friends, in fact I’ll take the word ‘even’ out because we are going to be best friends. There won’t be a relationship more important to us.” [Source] Speech to Republican Hindu Coalition. October 15, 2016

“I look forward to working with Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi [of India]  who has been very energetic in reforming India’s bureaucracy. Great man! I applaud him for doing so and I look forward to doing some serious bureaucratic trimming right here in the United States, believe me we need it also. […] Your great prime minister has been a pro-growth leader for India. He simplified the tax code and cut taxes and their [India’s] economy  is grown 7% a year . Excellent! Our economy is practically not growing at all in the United States, just about zero, and with a very, very bad jobs report just this last Friday. ” [Source] Speech to Republican Hindu Coalition. October 15, 2016

“As far as Japan and other countries, we are being ripped off by everybody in the -- we're defending other countries. We are spending a fortune doing it. They have the bargain of the century. All I said is, we have to renegotiate these agreements, because our country cannot afford to defend Saudi Arabia, Japan, Germany, South Korea, and many other places. We cannot continue to afford -- she took that as saying nuclear weapons.” [Source] Final Presidential Debate. University of Nevada, Las Vegas. October 19, 2016




Notable quotes for this topic could not be found for Tim Kaine (D), Mike Pence (R)

Hillary Clinton (D)“China’s rise is the story of the twenty-first century how we handle that how we respond to it will determine our future and the world’s future. I want to see a peaceful rise for China I worked very hard on that as Secretary of State and I will continue to do so. But we also have to be fully vigilant, China's military is growing very quickly, they're establishing military installations that again threaten countries we have treaties with, like the Philippines because they are building on contested property. They're also trying to hack into everything that doesn't move in America. Stealing commercial secrets…from defense contractors, stealing huge amounts of government information, all looking for an advantage.” [Source] New Hampshire Rally. July 5, 2015

“The Chinese government, which wields influence with the North Koreans, must be more assertive in deterring the North’s irresponsible actions, and it should take actions to halt prohibited activities transpiring across its borders or its firms that participate in illicit trade or proliferation will have to face sanctions.” [Source] Statement. January 6, 2016

"True in Beijing in 1995, true today: Women's rights are human rights. This center should remain-I stand with Guo [Jianmei, founder of Beijing Zhonghe Women's Legal Aid Counseling and Service Center, which was ordered clsoed by Chinese authorities]." [SourceTwitter. January 31, 2016

“[W]ith respect to China, one of the most challenging relationships we have, [Kissinger’s] opening up China and his ongoing relationships with the leaders of China is an incredibly useful relationship for the United States of America." [Source] Democratic Presidential Debate in Milwaukee. February 11, 2016

"[W]e have to stand up to Chinese abuses. Right now, Washington is considering Beijing’s request for “market economy” status. That sounds pretty obscure. But here’s the rub – if they get market economy status, it would defang our anti-dumping laws and let cheap products flood into our markets. So we should reply with only one word: No. With thousands of state-owned enterprises; massive subsidies for domestic industry; systematic, state-sponsored efforts to steal business secrets; and blatant refusal to play by the rules, China is far from a market economy. If China wants to be treated like a market economy, it needs to act like one." [Source] Op-Ed in Portland Press Herald. February 23, 2016

“I’ve gone toe–to–toe with China’s top leaders on some of the toughest issues we face, from cyber-attacks to human rights to climate change to trade and more. I know how they operate and they know if I’m your president they are going to have to toe the line because we are going to once and for all get fair treatment or they’re not going to get access to our markets. When you know how somebody operates and you know they’re always trying to game the system and you know that they really don’t care about the rules of the road, you have to get tough and you have to be ready to really draw the line.  And I think we are at that point.” [Source] AFL-CIO Union Convention in Philadelphia. April 6, 2016

“Donald doesn’t see the complexity. He wants to start a trade war with China. And I understand a lot of Americans have concerns about our trade agreements – I do too. But a trade war is something very different. We went down that road in the 1930s. It made the Great Depression longer and more painful. Combine that with his comments about defaulting on our debt, and it’s not hard to see how a Trump presidency could lead to a global economic crisis.” [Source] Speech on Donald Trump and the Economy. June 2, 2016

“You don’t talk about leverage until you actually produce leverage, and I believe that we do have leverage with China and I believe based on my extensive discussions when I was Secretary of State that there is even a conversation starting within China about how to handle the changes in the North Korean regime. China has no interest in seeing the kind of buildup which we are going to be doing, and I will stress this and underline it, we will not leave our friends and allies unprotected and we will do everything we can to put in the most effective missile defense system against anything that North Korea does. The Chinese are not happy about that. We have a lot of leverage, and we are going to exercise that leverage and we are going to put together the kind of negotiations that I think can lead to a beginning of containing and controlling the behavior of the North Korean government, which has the danger of affecting everyone including China.” [SourceNational Security Briefing Remarks. September 9, 2016

"Well, that was very interesting. First of all, China is illegally dumping steel in the United States and Donald Trump is buying it to build his buildings, putting steelworkers and American steel plants out of business. That's something that I fought against as a senator and something I would have a trade prosecutor to make sure we don't get taken advantage of by China on steel or anything else." [Source] 2nd Presidential Debate, October 9, 2016 

“But he mentioned China. And, you know, one of the biggest problems we have with China is the illegal dumping of steel and aluminum into our markets. I have fought against that as a senator. I've stood up against it as secretary of state. Donald has bought Chinese steel and aluminum. In fact, the Trump Hotel right here in Las Vegas was made with Chinese steel. So he goes around with crocodile tears about how terrible it is, but he has given jobs to Chinese steelworkers, not American steelworkers.” [Source] Final Presidential Debate. University of Nevada, Las Vegas. October 19, 2016

Donald Trump (R) “I love China. The biggest bank in the world is from China. You know where their United States headquarters is located? In this building, in Trump Tower. I love China. People say, Oh, you don’t like China? No, I love them. But their leaders are much smarter than our leaders, and we can’t sustain ourself with that. There’s too much — it’s like — it’s like take the New England Patriots and Tom Brady and have them play your high school football team. That’s the difference between China’s leaders and our leaders.” [Source] Annoucement of Candidacy. June 16, 2015

“Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t have victories anymore. We used to have victories, but we don’t have them. When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say, China in a trade deal? They kill us. I beat China all the time. All the time.” [SourceAnnoucement of Candidacy. June 16, 2015

“China is a problem, both economically in what they're doing in the South China Sea, I mean, they are becoming a very, very major force. So, we have more than just Russia." [Source4th Republican Debate. November 10, 2015

“In China 2,000 years ago they built the Great Wall of China which is bigger than any wall we are thinking about okay? The Great Wall of China goes 18,000 miles. We have 2,000 miles, of which we only need 1,000 miles. So China has 18,000 or 13,000 miles and we have 1,000 miles. We have modern cranes, we have Caterpillar tractors which are the best, made in America!” [SourceSpeech at Westin Resort & Spa on Hilton Head Island. December 30, 2015

“And China can come out and, frankly, they say that they don’t have that much control over North Korea, they have total control over North Korea, they [North Korea] wouldn’t be able to eat. So China has to get involved and China should solve that problem and we should put pressure on China to solve the problem[…] They can handle it so easily. Now they won’t say that, you know, they say ‘Well they’re [North Korea] not that easy, they’re not that easy,’ they’re [China] taunting us okay? They are playing games with us […] China should solve that problem and if they don’t solve that problem we should be very tough on them with trade, meaning start charging them tax or start cutting them off, you’d have China in a collapse in about two minutes. We have great power over China we just don’t know how to use it.” [Source] Interview with CNN. January 6, 2016

“The only power that we have with China is massive trade. I would tax China on products coming in. I would do a tariff, yes — and they do it to us. I would do a tax.  And the tax, let me tell you what the tax should be … the tax should be 45 percent.” [SourceMeeting with Editorial Board of The New York Times. January 7, 2016

“They [North Korea] don’t live and they don’t breathe without China. China has a lot of power over North Korea, I’ve been saying this for a long time and China is playing us like a fiddle. China’s saying ‘Well, we don’t have that much power, we don’t have that much control,’ they [North Korea] wouldn’t get anything without China and China has the power and we have to tell China to straighten out the situation. I mean, you’ve got this madman playing around with the nukes and it has to end and China has to do it. Now, we have power over China because of trade, because they suck us dry, they take our money, they take our jobs, they take our everything, we lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year with China on trade. So, frankly if we ever stopped it [trade with China], believe me you’d see depression in China like you had never seen a depression before. So we have power over China our leaders just don’t know it. China has to solve the North Korea problem […] North Korea wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for China so we have to use China and ideally they do it without any threat, they should do it for their own well-being but if we have to use threat the threat with have is economic threat.” [Source] Interview with Fox News. January 8, 2016

“You gotta give him [Kim Jong Un] credit, how many young guys […] take over these tough generals […] he takes over and he’s the boss, it’s incredible. He wiped out the uncle, he wiped out this one that one, this guy doesn’t play games and we can’t play games with him because he really does have missiles and he really does have nukes. And here’s what we do, we tell China, we rebuilt China, they [China] have taken so much of our money with trade, they have taken everything, they have taken our jobs , they’ve taken our money, they’ve taken our base, they’ve taken so much […] They make a tremendous amount of money with the United States as we’ve been talking about. We’re going to go there and we’re going to say you gotta take care of the Korean problem, you gotta take care of it, everything comes through China. And they tell our people, because our people are novices, but they say they don’t have that much control, they have total control, they [North Korea] wouldn’t live, they wouldn’t eat without China. And China’s massive everyone’s afraid over there of China […] I will get China to handle the problem and if they don’t handle the problem we’ll have to take it up on trade. It’s going to be very costly for them but if they don’t handle the problem but I wouldn’t say that because I would never want to threaten anybody." [Source] Rally in Iowa. January 11, 2016

“No, I said, " I would use -- " they were asking me what to do about North Korea. China, they don't like to tell us but they have total control -- just about, of North Korea. They can solve the problem of North Korea if they wanted to but they taunt us. They say, " well, we don't really have control." Without China, North Korea doesn't even eat. China is ripping us on trade. They're devaluing their currency and they're killing our companies. Thousands of thousands -- you look at the number of companies and the number in terms of manufacturing of plans that we've lost -- 50,000 because of China.” [Source] 6th Republican Debate. January 14, 2016

“OK, just so you understand -- I know so much about trading about with China. Carl Icahn today as you know endorsed. Many businessmen want to endorse me. Carl said, "no, no -- " but he's somebody -- these are the kind of people that we should use to negotiate and not the China people that we have who are political hacks who don't know what they're doing and we have problems like this. If these are the kinds of people -- we should use our best and our finest. Now, on that tariff -- here's what I'm saying, China -- they send their goods and we don't tax it -- they do whatever they want to do. They do whatever what they do, OK. When we do business with China, they tax us. You don't know it, they tax us. I have many friends that deal with China. They can't -- when they order the product and when they finally get the product it is taxed. If you looking at what happened with Boeing and if you look at what happened with so many companies that deal -- so we don't have an equal playing field. I'm saying, absolutely, we don't have to continue to lose 505 billion dollars as a trade deficit for the privilege of dealing with China. I'm a free trader. I believe in it but we have to be smart and we have to use smart people to negotiate. I have the largest bank in the world as a tenant of mine. I sell tens' of millions of (inaudible). I love China. I love the Chinese people but they laugh themselves, they can't believe how stupid the American leadership is. I'm totally open to a tariff. If they don't treat us fairly, hey, their whole trade is tariffed. You can't deal in China without tariffs. They do it to us, we don't it. It's not fair trade.” [Source6th Republican Debate. January 14, 2016

“We've lost anywhere between four and seven million jobs because of China. What I said then was, "we have very unfair trade with China. We're going to have a trade deficit of 505 billion dollars this year with China." A lot of that is because they devalue their currency. What I said to the New York Times, is that, "we have great power, economic power over China and if we wanted to use that and the amount -- where the 45 percent comes in, that would be the amount they saw their devaluations that we should get." That we should get. What I'm saying is this, I'm saying that we do it but if they don't start treating us fairly and stop devaluing and let their currency rise so that our companies can compete and we don't lose all of these millions of jobs that we're losing, I would certainly start taxing goods that come in from China. Who the hell has to lose 505 billion dollars a year?” [Source6th Republican Debate. January 14, 2016

“China, this year in trade, will make more than $500 billion in terms of our trade deficit. $500 billion, this is no partnership.” [Source] Rally in Des Moines, Iowa. January 28, 2016

"I'm going to bring jobs back from China. I'm going to bring back jobs from Mexico, and from Japan, where they're all - every country throughout the world-now Vietnam, that's the new one. They are taking our jobs. They are taking our wealth." [SourceCBS News Republican Debate. February 13, 2016

“Well look, we have power over China and people don’t realize it. We have trade power over China. I don’t think we are going to start World War III over what they did, it affects other countries certainly a lot more than it affects us. But—and honestly, you know part of—I always say we have to be unpredictable. We’re totally predictable.  And predictable is bad.” [Source] Meeting with Washington Post Editorial Board. March 21, 2016

“China has got unbelievable ambitions. China feels very invincible. We have rebuilt China. They have drained so much money out of our country that they’ve rebuilt China. Without us, you wouldn’t see the airports and the roadways and the bridges; I mean, the George Washington Bridge is like, that’s like a trinket compared to the bridges that they’ve built in China.” [SourceMeeting with Washington Post Editorial Board. March 21, 2016

“China is upset because of the way Donald Trump is talking about trade with China. They’re ripping us off folks, it’s time. I’m so happy they’re upset. They haven’t been upset with us for 30 years.” [Source] Rally in Staten Island, New York. April 17, 2016

"Fixing our relations with China is another important step-and really toward creating an even more prosperous period of time. China respects strength and by letting them take advantage of us economically, which they are doing like never before, we have lost all of their respect." [Source"America First" Foreign Policy Speech, April 27, 2016

In reference to trade deficits: "We can't continue to allow China to rape our country, and that's what they're doing." [Source]  Campaign rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana. May 1, 2016

"Let me tell you something, China will behave and China will be our friend. We'll do better under China with me and we're also going to do better economically with me. They are going to respect our country again." [Source] Speech in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. May 19, 2016

“Almost half of our entire manufacturing trade deficit, in goods with the world, is the result-and it’s the result—of trade with China.” [Source] Speech in Monessen, Pennsylvania. June 28, 2016

“China will enter the TPP through the backdoor at a later date. They’re watching, they’re studying, they’re not in it now but they’re gonna be in it if it’s good, they’ll be there. By the way, if it’s no good, they’ll pass.” [SourceSpeech in Monessen, Pennsylvania. June 28, 2016

“We’re going to use great business leaders to work with our generals, we’re going to make great trade deals where we are getting absolutely killed with China and other countries, and you people know it better than anybody because you know that even though you have a great governor, you know how hard it is to get your product  to other countries and in particular to get it into China ‘cause they don’t want it.” [Source] Rally in Des Moines, Iowa. August 5, 2016

“You can’t deal with China, manufacturers that I know can’t get their product into China, if they do they have to pay a massive tax. Whereas China sends their product into us like nothing and they continually, continually, devalue their currency. And by devaluing their currency it makes it impossible for companies from Iowa and from every other place, you look at what’s going on in Michigan, look at what’s going on in upstate New York and Pennsylvania and Ohio. They make it impossible for other companies to compete, they make it impossible. You can’t get your product in and if you get it in, and by the way if you really get it in they want you to build everything over there they don’t want it from our country. They take advantage of us like Boeing like GM, they take advantage of us like nobody has ever. They’re abusers, they’re abusing our country.” […] Now we have a trade deficit with China of $505 billion dollars, how stupid are we?” [Source] Rally in Des Moines, Iowa. August 5, 2016

“At the center of my plan is trade enforcement with China. This alone could return millions of jobs into our economy. China is responsible for nearly half of our entire trade deficit. They break the rules in every way imaginable. China engages in illegal export subsidies, prohibited currency manipulation, and rampant theft of intellectual property. They also have no real environmental or labor protections, further undercutting American workers. Just enforcing intellectual property rules alone could save millions of American jobs. According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, improved protection of America’s intellectual property in China would produce more than 2 million more jobs right here in the United States. Add to that the saved jobs from cracking down on currency cheating and product dumping, and we will bring trillions of dollars in new wealth and wages back to the United States.” [Source] Economic Speech in Detroit, Michigan. August 9, 2016

[Listing seven steps that will help bring back jobs to America] "Five: I am going to instruct my Treasury Secretary to label China a currency manipulator. Any country that devalues their currency in order to take unfair advantage of the United States will face tariffs to stop the cheating. Six: I am going to instruct the U.S. Trade Representative to bring trade cases against China, both in this country and at the WTO. China's unfair subsidy behavior is prohibited by the terms of its entrance to the WTO, and I intend to enforce those rules. Seven: If China does not stop its illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets, I will use every lawful presidential power to remedy trade disputes, including the application of tariffs consistent with federal law." [Source] Campaign Rally in Tampa, Florida. August 24, 2016 

“Look at our president, they [China] wouldn’t even give him stairs to come out of Air Force One, okay? All right? And they probably say on that ‘Gee, we couldn’t get ‘em there.’ When I saw that yesterday […] if that happened I’d land, I’d hear he’s not there  [referencing a similar situation that happened to President Obama in Cuba] to pay respect to the country [the United States] , not to him [President Obama], to pay respect to our country, I would say ‘Thank you very much fellas that’s okay,’  close it [the plane] up , boom, let’s go back to Washington. […] We are very good to China and I have great respect for China I make a lot of money with China, China’s great I don’t hold it against them, I hold it against our leaders for allowing this to happen with the trade and trade deficits. The trade deficits are massive,  $500 billion trade deficit. No I hold it against our leaders, I respect China, I mean our people should be doing that to them. But it doesn’t work out that way so nothing against China I have the largest  bank in the world is a tenant of mine, I’ve sold condos to people in China, I’ve sold to everybody, but that we allow this to happen and then we land on Air Force One.” [Source] Interview with General Michael Flynn, Sandler Center, Virginia Beach, Virginia. September 6, 2016

“It’s all the more power we have over them [China], okay? […] Because of that [China’s large holdings of US debt] we have more power over them. […] We owe China two trillion dollars okay? Two trillion!  I mean hard to believe but that’s what it is. Think of it, they suck the blood out of us and we owe them money. That’s a hard one to do, they’re magicians.  They take our money out and we owe them money on top of it so I call them great magicians. […] You [the United States] aren’t going to default on that debt but we have a lot of power, we have a lot of power, no we would not default on the debt although you could make the case, I mean China’s defaulted with us because if you look at what they are doing with intellectual property, $300 billion a year , I mean you look at what they’re doing the way they steal our intellectual property, our intellectual rights , I mean it’s crazy what they’re doing , I mean there’s like no laws that pertain to them so you could certainly make a case in a court what they have done to us is incredible we don’t  have, and then when they come over they get state dinners.  […] Honestly, it’s a very sad thing what China, how China has out negotiated us, it’s very sad.” [Source] Phone interview, CNBC. September 12, 2016 

“ Our jobs are fleeing the country. They're going to Mexico. They're going to many other countries. You look at what China is doing to our country in terms of making our product. They're devaluing their currency, and there's nobody in our government to fight them. And we have a very good fight. And we have a winning fight. Because they're using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China, and many other countries are doing the same thing.” [Source] First Presidential Debate, Hofstra University. September 27, 2016

“Our country's in deep trouble. We don't know what we're doing when it comes to devaluations and all of these countries all over the world, especially China. They're the best, the best ever at it. What they're doing to us is a very, very sad thing.” [Source] First Presidential Debate, Hofstra University. September 27, 2016

“Since China entered the World Trade Organization, another Bill and Hillary backed deal, 70,000 factories, when I saw 70,000 factories I said ‘Go back, it can’t be possible,’ I figured maybe 700, 7,000, 70,000 factories have shut down or left the United States. Can you believe this? 70,000. That’s 15 factories a day closing on average. We are living through the greatest job theft in the history of the world. Jobs are being stolen by countries with much stronger leadership than ours.” [Source] Campaign Rally in Henderson, Nevada. October 5, 2016

"But we are putting our energy companies out of business. We have to bring back our workers. You take a look at what's happening to steel and the cost of steel and China dumping vast amounts steel all over the United States, which essentially is killing our steelworkers and steel companies. We have to guard our energy companies, we have to make it possible. The EPA is so restrictive that they are putting our energy companies out of business. And all you have to do is go to a great place like West Virginia or places like Ohio which is phenomenal or places like Pennsylvania and you see what they are doing to the people, miners and others in the energy business. It's a disgrace. It’s an absolute disgrace." [Source] 2nd Presidential Debate, October 9, 2016 

“Finally, we must fix our terrible trade deals and protect America’s intellectual property, something you know a lot about. […] China is stealing our intellectual property. Guess how much intellectual property a US government official says China stole last year. The number is approximately $360 billion dollars.” [Source] Speech to Republican Hindu Coalition. October 15, 2016

“Third, I will direct my secretary of the treasury to label China a currency manipulator [during his first 100 days in office]. China is a currency manipulator, what they have done to us by playing currency is very sad and I don’t blame them, they’ve been very smart. I blame our politicians for letting this take place. So easy to stop, so easy to stop.” [Source] Speech on first 100 days in office, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. October 22, 2016



Human Rights and Democracy in Asia

Notable quotes for this topic could not be found for Tim Kaine (D), Mike Pence (R), Donald Trump (R)

Hillary Clinton (D) – "Xi [Jinping] hosting a meeting on women's rights at the UN while persecuting feminists? Shameless." [Source] Twitter. September 7, 2015

“The Burmese election on Sunday was an important, though imperfect, step forward in the country’s long journey toward democracy. It was also an affirmation of the indispensable role the United States can and should play in the world as a champion of peace and progress.  When I was Secretary of State, President Obama and I worked with Aung San Suu Kyi and others on the ground in Burma to nurture flickers of progress into a real opening, including the release of more than 1,100 political prisoners, some of whom were on the ballot on Sunday.  But we cannot forget that one election does not constitute true democracy – that takes a commitment to human rights, strong institutions, and a thriving civil society.  And Burma still has a long way to go on everything from national reconciliation to constitutional reform to resolving long-running ethnic conflicts to addressing the plight of the Rohingya people. But the Burmese people have shown once again that they are determined to keep moving forward toward a better future. As President, I will ensure that the United States continues to stand with them and with everyone around the world who seeks liberty and dignity.” [Source]Campaign Website. November 8, 2015

“True in Beijing in 1995, true today: Women's rights are human rights. This center should remain—I stand with Guo [Jianmei, founder of Beijing Zhonghe Women's Legal Aid Counseling and Service Center, which was ordered closed by Chinese authorities]." [SourceTwitter. January 31, 2016.”

"Well, you know, I went to Beijing in 1995 and said women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights. And I believe that with all my heart. [...] Human rights always has to be at the center of who we are as a nation, and what I will do as president. You can count on that." [Source] MSNBC and Telemundo's Clinton-Sanders Town Hall. February 18, 2016

“I was determined as Secretary of State to try to get an opening to Burma, now called Myanmar. And, a lot of people said, well, you know, that'll never happen. […] Look what's happened? There was an election. Aung Song Suu Kyi's party won. The military is turning over power.” [SourceMSNBC and Telemundo's Clinton-Sanders Town Hall. February 18, 2016



North Korea

Hillary Clinton (D)“North Korea’s goal is to blackmail the world into easing the pressure on its rogue regime. We can’t give in to or in any way encourage this kind of bullying. Instead, we should increase pressure and send Pyongyang an unmistakable message that its nuclear brinksmanship won’t succeed.” [Source] Statement on North Korea's Apparent Nuclear Test. January 6, 2016

"North Korea’s decision to conduct another nuclear test is outrageous and unacceptable.  I strongly condemn this reckless action, which – coupled with its recent series of missile launches – makes clear Pyongyang’s determination to develop a deliverable nuclear weapon.  This constitutes a direct threat to the United States, and we cannot and will never accept this. I support President Obama’s call to both strengthen the sanctions passed earlier this year with the United Nations and to impose additional sanctions.  At the same time, we must strengthen defense cooperation with our allies in the region; South Korea and Japan are critical to our missile defense system, which will protect us against a North Korean missile.  China plays a critical role, too, and must meaningfully increase pressure on North Korea – and we must make sure they do." [SourceCampaign Statement. September 9, 2016

“I think it’s clear that the increasing threat posed by North Korea requires not only a rethinking of the [current US] strategy but a urgent effort to convince the neighbors, most particularly China, that this is not just a US issue and I think we have an opening here that we haven’t had for the last several years that I intend to do everything I can to take advantage of. But we are also going to support and equip our allies in the region with the missile defense systems that they require to protect themselves. That is not something that either the North Korean or the Chinese or the Russians in the region are particularly pleased about, but what is the alternative? We are not going to let anyone who is a treaty ally and partner of ours be threatened and we are not going to let North Korea pursue a nuclear weapon with the ballistic missile capacity to deliver it to the United States territory. That is absolutely a bottom line and if other countries want to assist us in this effort we welcome that and we will engage in intensive discussions as soon as possible.” [Source] National Security Briefing Remarks. September 9, 2016

“So our sanctions [against Iran in 2009 to prevent further nuclear proliferation], despite our best efforts, were not enough. And, although we have international sanctions North Korea, […] they aren’t enough either. […] They are not enough because China has not yet made the decision that it needs to make, that North Korea poses a threat to the region and poses a threat to the kind of stable border relationship that China has always valued with North Korea. So we are going to continue to look at how we tighten sanctions because I do think there is a role for sanctions, the regime in North Korea  lives off of goods, material that can be smuggled in to keep their lifestyle, their love of luxury going so I think there is a lot more we can do and it will be on the top of my list in dealing with China on how we’re going to prevent what could very well be a serious conflict with North Korea.” [Source] National Security Briefing Remarks. September 9, 2016

“You don’t talk about leverage until you actually produce leverage, and I believe that we do have leverage with China and I believe based on my extensive discussions when I was Secretary of State that there is even a conversation starting within China about how to handle the changes in the North Korean regime. China has no interest in seeing the kind of buildup which we are going to be doing, and I will stress this and underline it, we will not leave our friends and allies unprotected and we will do everything we can to put in the most effective missile defense system against anything that North Korea does. The Chinese are not happy about that. We have a lot of leverage, and we are going to exercise that leverage and we are going to put together the kind of negotiations that I think can lead to a beginning of containing and controlling the behavior of the North Korean government, which has the danger of affecting everyone including China.” [Source] National Security Briefing Remarks. September 9, 2016

*Tim Kaine (D)“Recent provocations by the North Koreans, including the ballistic missile launch and nuclear tests, violate numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions and pose a significant threat to both the United States and our allies in the region. I’m proud to join nearly all of my Senate colleagues in supporting legislation to sanction this rogue regime and give the Obama administration additional tools to confront this growing threat.” [Source] Statement While Serving as Senator of Virginia. February 10, 2016 

*"Kim Jong Un’s backward calculus has left his country impoverished and almost entirely dependent on China for economic trade. Roughly 90% of North Korea’s foreign trade is with China, which is why China can have significant leverage over North Korea. But disappointingly the track record of China using its leverage to curb North Korean activity is very, very disappointing. We need to continue to pressure China to increase sanctions on North Korea and elevate this issue in bilateral discussions with China. The number of North Korean nuclear weapons could soon approach China’s within the next decade and that is a direct threat to regional stability and global security. […] China can no longer turn a blind eye to this. As a member of the UN Security Council, China needs to help foster international peace and play the role that an international power on the UN Security Council needs to play. The need to play the role in additionally advancing and pushing for more human rights in North Korea because they have the leverage to do so. We don’t trade with North Korea our leverage is somewhat limited but China with a 90% trade share has that leverage. The good thing about these sanctions is that they will sanction the activities of Chinese companies and entities that are trading with North Korea and that secondary sanction effect, I think, has the ability to work and put pressure on them." [Source] Senate Speech While Serving as Senator of Virginia. February 10, 2016

“You asked the question about how do we deal with a North Korea. I'm on the Foreign Relations Committee. We just did an extensive sanctions package against North Korea. And interestingly enough, Elaine, the U.N. followed and did this -- virtually the same package. Often China will use their veto in the Security Council to veto a package like that. They're starting to get worried about North Korea, too. So they actually supported the sanctions package, even though many of the sanctions are against Chinese firms, Chinese financial institutions. So we're working together with China, and we need to. China's another one of those relationships where it's competitive, it's also challenging, and in times like North Korea, we have to be able to cooperate. Hillary understands that very well. She went once famously to China and stood up at a human rights meeting and looked them in the eye and said, ‘Women's rights are human rights.’ They didn't want her to say that, but she did. But she's also worked on a lot of diplomatic and important diplomatic deals with China. And that's what it's going to take.” [Source] Vice Presidential Debate, Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. October 4, 2016

Mike Pence (R) - “Well, first, we need to -- we need to make a commitment to rebuild our military, including modernizing our nuclear forces. And we also need -- we also need an effective American diplomacy that will marshal the resources of nations in the Asian Pacific Rim to put pressure on North Korea, on Kim Jong-un, to abandon his nuclear ambitions. It has to remain the policy of the United States of America the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, plain and simple.” [Source] Vice Presidential Debate, Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. October 4, 2016 

Donald Trump (R) - “Well, first of all, it's not only Russia. We have problems with North Korea where they actually have nuclear weapons. You know, nobody talks about it, we talk about Iran, and that's one of the worst deals ever made. One of the worst contracts ever signed, ever, in anything, and it's a disgrace. But, we have somebody over there, a madman, who already has nuclear weapons we don't talk about that. That's a problem.” [Source] 4th Republican Debate. November 10, 2015

"China says they don’t have that good of control over North Korea. They have tremendous control. I deal with the Chinese all of the time.  […] I deal with them. They tell me. They have total, absolute control, practically, of North Korea." [Source] Republican Debate. February 6, 2016

“I would get China make that guy [Kim Jong Un] to disappear in one form or another very quickly” [Source] Speech in New Hampshire. February 10, 2016

“Um, at some point, we cannot be the policeman of the world. And unfortunately, we have a nuclear world now. And you have, Pakistan has them. You have, probably, North Korea has them. I mean, they don’t have delivery yet, but you know, probably, I mean to me, that’s a big problem. And, would I rather have North Korea have them with Japan sitting there having them also? You may very well be better off if that’s the case. In other words, where Japan is defending itself against North Korea, which is a real problem. You very well may have a better case right there. We certainly haven’t been able to do much with him and with North Korea. But you may very well have a better case. You know, one of the things with the, with our Japanese relationship, and I’m a big fan of Japan, by the way. I have many, many friends there. I do business with Japan. But, that, if we are attacked, they don’t have to do anything. If they’re attacked, we have to go out with full force.” [Source]  Telephone Interview with The New York Times. March 26, 2016 

“China has great power over North Korea even though they don’t necessarily say that. Now, Iran, we had a great opportunity during this negotiation when we gave them the 150 billion and many other things. Iran is the No. 1 trading partner of North Korea. Now we could have put something in our agreement that they would have led the charge if we had people with substance and with brainpower and with some negotiating ability. But the No. 1 trading partner with North Korea is Iran. And we did a deal with them, and we just did a deal with them, and we don’t even mention North Korea in the deal. That was a great opportunity to put another five pages in the deal, or less, and they do have a great influence over North Korea. Same thing with China, China has great influence over North Korea but they don’t say they do because they’re tweaking us. I have this from Chinese. I have many Chinese friends, I have people of vast wealth, some of the most important people in China have purchased apartments from me for tens of millions of dollars and frankly I know them very well. And I ask them about their relationship to North Korea, these are top people. And they say we have tremendous power over North Korea. I know they do. I think you know they do.” [Source]  Telephone Interview with The New York Times. March 26, 2016 

“I would rather have them not armed, but I'm not going to continue to lose this tremendous amount of money. And frankly, the case could be made that let [Japan and South Korea] protect themselves against North Korea. They'd probably wipe 'em out pretty quick. And if they fight, you know what, that would be a terrible thing, terrible. Good luck, folks, enjoy yourselves. If they fight, that would be terrible, right? But if they do, they do!" [Source] Rally in Wisconsin. April 2, 2016

"I would speak to [Kim Jong Un], I would have no problem speaking to him. At the same time I would put a lot of pressure on China … China can solve that problem with one meeting or one phone call." [Source] Reuters Interview. May 18, 2016

"The papers called the other day and they said ‘Would you speak to the leader of North Korea?’ I said ‘Absolutely, why not, why not?’ And they come back ‘Trump will speak to him.’ Who the hell cares? I’ll speak to anybody. Who knows? There’s a 10 percent or a 20 percent chance that I can talk him out of those damn nukes because who the hell wants him to have nukes? And there’s a chance — I’m only gonna make a good deal for us. But there’s a chance. […]What the hell is wrong with speaking? And you know what? It’s called opening a dialogue. It’s opening a dialogue. And I don’t say it’s going to happen, and probably it won’t. But there’s nothing — I wouldn’t go there. That I can tell you. If he came here, I’d accept him, but I wouldn’t give him a state dinner like we do for China and all these other people that rip us off when we give them these big state dinners. We give them state dinners like you’ve never seen. We shouldn’t have dinners at all. We should be eating a hamburger on a conference table, and we should make better deals with China and others and forget the state dinners.” [Source] Remarks in Atlana, Georgia. June 15, 2016 

“Well, it’s not that they’ve done some unbelievable things [North Korean regime], but they’re in the process of  doing some unbelievable things believe me, I mean they are very belligerent, they have no respect for our country, none whatsoever and we have a situation that’s a potential catastrophe.  We have somebody [North Korea] that truly does have nuclear and nuclear capability. The [aircraft] carrier maybe is not there yet but it soon will be,  we have a man [North Korean leader Kim Jong Un] who is, I mean, he took over at 25  years old I guess or around then and now  it looks like he is getting more and more hostile. And what I would do, very simply, is say ‘China, this is your baby, this is your problem, you solve the problem.’  China can solve that problem, and remember  this, that’s a big problem,  China has virtually total control over North Korea but they  say they don’t because they want to tweak us.”  [Source] Interview with General Michael Flynn, Sandler Center, Virginia Beach, Virginia. September 6, 2016

“Nuclear is the single greatest threat. Just to go down the list, we defend Japan, we defend Germany, we defend South Korea, we defend Saudi Arabia, we defend countries. They do not pay us. But they should be paying us, because we are providing tremendous service and we're losing a fortune. That's why we're losing -- we're losing -- we lose on everything. I say, who makes these -- we lose on everything. All I said, that it's very possible that if they don't pay a fair share, because this isn't 40 years ago where we could do what we're doing. We can't defend Japan, a behemoth, selling us cars by the million...” [Source] First Presidential Debate, Hofstra University. September 27, 2016

“I think that once the nuclear alternative happens, it's over. At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can't take anything off the table. Because you look at some of these countries, you look at North Korea, we're doing nothing there. China should solve that problem for us. China should go into North Korea. China is totally powerful as it relates to North Korea. And by the way, another one powerful is the worst deal I think I've ever seen negotiated that you started is the Iran deal. Iran is one of their biggest trading partners. Iran has power over North Korea. And when they made that horrible deal with Iran, they should have included the fact that they do something with respect to North Korea. And they should have done something with respect to Yemen and all these other places.” [Source] First Presidential Debate, Hofstra University. September 27, 2016



Rebalance to Asia

•Notable quotes for this topic could not be found for Tim Kaine (D), Mike Pence (R), Donald Trump (R)

Hillary Clinton (R)"The rebalancing to Asia, otherwise known as 'the pivot,' was in response to the very real sense of abandonment that Asian leaders expressed to me. And my phone calls to them before I ever went to the region in February of 2009, you know, they believed that because we were so focused in Afghanistan and we were so focused in Iraq, and obviously had to be given all that we had invested there, that we were just not paying attention to the developments in Asia. I think we’ve come some ways in trying to rebalance, but we have a long way to go, and there’s much at stake in how we deal with all the players in Asia." [Source] Addressing the Iran Nuclear Deal at The Brookings Institution. September 9, 2015



South China Sea After the Arbitration Ruling

Notable quotes for this topic could not be found for Mike Pence (R)

Hillary Clinton (D)“We do have to take a hard look at the defense budget and we do have to figure out how we get ready to fight the adversaries of the future, not the past. But we have to also be very clear that we do have some continuing challenges. We've got challenges in the South China Sea because of what China is doing in building up these military installations. We have problems with Russia. Just the other day, Russia allowed a television camera to see the plans for a drone submarine that could carry a tactical nuclear weapon. So we've got to look at the full range and then come to some smart decisions about having more streamlined and focused approach.” [Source] CBS Democratic Debate. November 15, 2015

"I have been very strongly in support with the Philippines in this dispute and I am proud of the Philippines for taking their dispute to the international court … I thought that was a very wise decision, because there should not be a seizure of any territory until there's some kind of resolution that is legal.” [Source] ABS-CBN Interview. February 24, 2016

"The U.S. has a deep and abiding interest in the South China Sea and to the free flow of commerce – so critical to our economy – that flows through it. It is important that all claimants abide by this ruling and continue to pursue peaceful, multilateral means to resolve disputes among them." [Source] Reuters Statement. July 12, 2016

*Tim Kaine (D) - "I was encouraged to see the final ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the case of the Philippines v. China over competing claims in the South China Sea.  Today’s decision at The Hague demonstrates that existing international frameworks like the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) are relevant and even more critical in today’s complex security environment; they provide a forum for resolving disputes responsibly and peacefully." [Source] Statement While Serving as Virginia Senator. July 12 2016

"It is unfortunate that while the Philippines and China are both parties to UNCLOS, the United States has yet to ratify this important treaty and thus has closed off an important avenue for challenging China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea and Russia’s actions in the Arctic. The United States’ leadership on UNCLOS would strengthen the rule of law and demonstrate our commitment to international norms and our partners and allies in the region. A preponderance of U.S. policymakers, senior military officials, and business leaders agree that becoming a signatory to UNCLOS improves our national security and economic prospects, so I call on my Senate colleagues to ratify this landmark treaty as soon as possible.” ‎[SourceStatement While Serving as Virginia Senator. July 12 2016

Donald Trump (R)“They’re [China] building a military island in the middle of the South China sea. A military island. Now, our country could never do that because we’d have to get environmental clearance, and the environmentalist wouldn’t let our country — we would never build in an ocean. They built it in about one year, this massive military port. They’re building up their military to a point that is very scary. You have a problem with ISIS. You have a bigger problem with China." [Source] Accouncement of Candidacy Speech. June 16, 2015

"A strong and smart America is an America that will find a better friend in China, better than we have right now. Look at what China is doing in the South China Sea. They’re not supposed to be doing it." [Source] Foreign Policy Speech. April 27, 2016

“Unlike China where they build in the South China Sea a massive military complex, they’re building an island, you wouldn’t believe what’s going on out there, not supposed to do that by the way, but they have no respect for President Obama, no respect whatsoever, no respect for President Obama or Clinton or [Secretary of State John] Kerry but they have no respect for our country. They are building a massive, massive airfield, military base, people are amazed at what’s going on, and they don’t get environmental impact studies when they build, they just build.” [Source] Rally in Des Moines, Iowa. August 5, 2016




Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Hillary Clinton (D) -“In my time, eight years in the Senate, I voted for some trade agreements and I voted against others. I think I have a pretty good idea of what we can do to meet the tests that I believe any trade agreement, especially TPP must meet. It needs to, number one, protect American workers, number two, it needs to raise wages and create good jobs at home, number three, it needs to be in our national security interests. I’ve been saying that for months. Now, here’s what I think should happen now. In order to get a deal that meets these high standards, the president should listen to, and work with, his allies in Congress, who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak agreement would have on our workers, to make sure we get the best, strongest deal possible and, if we don’t get it, there should be no deal.” [SourceDes Moines, Iowa Rally. June 15, 2015

"I still believe in the goal of a strong and fair trade agreement in the Pacific as part of a broader strategy both at home and abroad, just as I did when I was secretary of state. I appreciate the hard work that President Obama and his team put into this process and recognize the strides they made. But the bar here is very high and, based on what I have seen, I don't believe this agreement has met it." [Source] PBS Newshour Interview. October 7, 2015

"You know, take the trade deal [Trans-Pacific Partnership]. I did say, when I was secretary of state, three years ago, that I hoped it would be the gold standard. It was just finally negotiated last week, and in looking at it, it didn't meet my standards. My standards for more new, good jobs for Americans, for raising wages for Americans. And I want to make sure that I can look into the eyes of any middle-class American and say, "this will help raise your wages." And I concluded I could not." [Source] CNN Democratic Debate. October 13, 2015

“[W]e have to set a high bar for any new trade agreements, and only support them if they will create good jobs, raise wages and advance our national security. I opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership when it failed to meet those tests, and would oppose future agreements if they failed to meet that bar.”  [Source] Op-Ed in Portland Press Herald. February 23, 2016

“I voted against the only multinational trade agreement that came before me when I was in the Senate. It was called CAFTA. I came out against the TPP after it was finished. I thought it was reasonable to actually know what was in it before I opposed it. I oppose it.” [Source] Democratic Debate in Flint, Michigan. March 6, 2016

“I believe we can compete and win in the global economy. To do that, we should renegotiate trade deals that aren’t working for Americans, and reject any agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that don’t meet my high bar for raising wages or creating good-paying jobs. And I will be tough on trade enforcement, too. Because when China dumps cheap steel in our markets or unfairly manipulates currency, we need to respond forcefully. And at the same time we need to invest more here at home. I have a ‘Make it in America’ plan to increase 21st century manufacturing and energy jobs in America.” [Source] Columbus, Ohio Speech. June 21, 2016

"It is too often that passed trade deals are sold to the American people with rosy scenarios that did not pan out. Those promises now ring hollow in many communities across Michigan and our country that have seen factories close and jobs disappear. Too many companies lobbied for trade deals so they could sell products abroad but then they instead moved abroad and sold back into the United States. It is also true that China and other countries have gamed the system for too long. Enforcement particularly during the Bush administration has been too lax. Investments at home that would make us more competitive have been completely blocked in Congress. And American workers and communities have paid the price. But the answer is not to rant and rave or cut ourselves off from the world, that would end up killing even more jobs, the answer is to finally make trade work for us, not against us. My message to every worker in Michigan and across America is this: I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages, including the Trans Pacific Partnership. I oppose it now, I'll oppose it after the election, and I'll oppose it as president." [Source] Campaign speech in Warren, Michigan. August 11, 2016

“Well, first, let me say, number one, when I saw the final agreement for TPP, I said I was against it. It didn't meet my test. I've had the same test. Does it create jobs, raise incomes, and further our national security? I'm against it now. I'll be against it after the election. I'll be against it when I'm president.” [Source] Final Presidential Debate. University of Nevada, Las Vegas. October 19, 2016

*Tim Kaine (D) - “Fast track was to give President Obama the same tools to negotiate a trade deal that every president since Gerald Ford has had, and of course I voted for that. Why would I not give to this president the same tools to negotiate a trade deal that other presidents have had? [Senator Kaine was one of 13 Democratic Senators that voted to give President Obama Trade Promotion Athority]” [Source] Interview with The Intercept While Serving as Senator for Virginia. July 21, 2016

“I am having discussions with groups around Virginia about the treaty itself. I see much in it to like. I think it’s an upgrade of labor standards. I think it’s an upgrade of environmental standards, I think it’s an upgrade in intellectual property protections.I do see at least right now that there is one element that I do have some very significant concerns about. And that is the dispute resolution mechanism. And I’ve got a lot of concerns about that. So I have no idea about when a vote would be because the majority will make that decision. And I’m not in the majority. But long before there would be a vote on that I’m trying to climb the learning curve on the areas where I have questions. So again, much of it I see I think as a significant improvement over the status quo. The dispute resolution mechanism I still have some significant concerns about.” [SourceInterview with The Intercept While Serving as Senator for Virginia. July 21, 2016

[Responding to a question from Stephen Colbert about why he initially voted for TPP and why he is against it now] “What I was for [in the TPP] was the president having the tools to negotiate the best deal possible so I voted for something called the TPA, fast track authority, let the president negotiate the best deal. And he did and the deal was on the table and I got a real problem with it because I don’t think the portions I really like, labor standards, environmental standards, I don’t think they can be enforced under this deal and that’s why I’m opposing it. And Hillary Clinton and I have the same attitude which is look trade’s a reality let’s do trade deals if they meet three criteria, do they increase jobs, increase wages, and are they good for national security, but to get there you’ve to have a deal that can be enforced and that’s a concern that we share and there’s others too but that’s the major one for me.” [Source] Interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. August 25, 2016 

“Well, look. I mean, I'll use my own example. I voted to give the president the fast-track ability to negotiate the best trade deal possible. But at the time I cast that vote in 2015, I said, ‘Look, I have a couple of concerns. And you've got to address these concerns, because I'm not guaranteeing I'll vote for it on the merits.’ The concerns weren't addressed. My concerns were largely around enforcement issues. […]And, you know, I tell you, the trade deals, if they're good enough, can be okay. But if you embrace a trade deal that's bad, you deepen people's skepticism about trade in general. And it's better to wait and try to find deals that meet your standards and not embrace deals that substandard.” [Source] Interview with Meet the Press. October 23, 2016

“We [Secretary Clinton and himself] aren’t against trade. We want to find export markets for American businesses because they will be able to add workers the more they export. That’s very important. And whether it’s in Asia or Europe, if we can find deals that meet those goals, more jobs, higher wages and good for national security and good enforcement provisions, we’re open to them. So, no, you never close the door if you can get a deal that’s good for American workers and our economy.” [Source] Interview with Meet the Press. October 23, 2016

Mike Pence (R) - “Throughout my career […] I have strongly supported free trade in measures that came before the Congress and when I was asked to support free trade initiatives as governor of Indiana. I supported them. But, frankly, we are on the verge of electing one of the best negotiators in the world as president of the United States of America and as Donald and I sat down and talked early on he talked to me about questioning the wisdom of these multi-country trade agreements, that when they are not working out the way clearly NAFTA is not any longer it’s very difficult to unwind. […] He’s for free trade, I’m for free trade but let’s do deals on a country-by-country basis. Let’s work out deals that work for the people of the United States, the consumers of the United States and businesses here. And I’m completely convinced that there’s wisdom in that, let’s deal with countries individually. With the TPP it feels a little bit like Obamacare […] And on TPP let’s hit the brakes, let’s deal with these Asian and Pacific Rim countries on an individual basis in a way that will promote growth.” [SourceInterview with The Laura Ingraham Show. July 28, 2016

Donald Trump (R) – "The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an attack on America's business. It does not stop Japan's currency manipulation. This is a bad deal." [Source] Twitter. April 22, 2015

“I’m a free trader. But the problem with free trade is you need really talented people to negotiate for you. If you don’t have talented people, if you don’t have great leadership, if you don’t have people that know business, not just a political hack that got the job because he made a contribution to a campaign, which is the way all jobs, just about, are gotten, free trade terrible. Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people, but we have people that are stupid. We have people that aren’t smart. And we have people that are controlled by special interests. And it’s just not going to work.” [Source] Accouncement of Candidacy Speech. June 16, 2015

“The deal [Trans-Pacific Partnership] is insanity. That deal should not be supported and it should not be allowed to happen […] We are giving away what ultimately is going to be a back door for China. China will take advantage of it—all the weak points in it, more than anybody else.” [Source] Breitbart News Interview. November 9, 2015

"The TPP is a horrible deal. It is a deal that is going to lead to nothing but trouble. It's a deal that was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone. It's 5,600 pages long, so complex that nobody's read it...But this is one of the worst trade deals. And I would, yes, rather not have it. With all of these countries, and all of the bad ones getting advantage and taking advantage of what the good ones would normally get, I'd rather make individual deals with individual countries. We will do much better. We lose a fortune on trade. The United States loses with everybody. We're losing now over $500 billion in terms of imbalance with China, $75 billion a year imbalance with Japan...I love trade. I'm a free trader, 100 percent. But we need smart people making the deals, and we don't have smart people making the deals." [Source] 4th Republican Debate. November 10, 2015

"...The currency manipulation they don't discuss in the agreement, which is a disaster. If you look at the way China and India and almost everybody takes advantage of the United States-China in particular, because they'are so good. It's the number-one abuser of this country. And if you look at the way they take advantage, it's through currency manipulation. It's not even discussed in the almost 6,000-page agreement. It's not even discussed. And as you understand, I mean, you understand very well from the Wall Street Journal, currency manipulation is the single great weapon people have. They don't even discuss it in this agreement. So I say, it's a very bad deal, should not be approved. If it is approved, it will just be more bad trade deals, more loss of jobs for our country. We are losing jobs like nobody's ever lost jobs before. I want to bring jobs back to this country." [Source] 4th Republican Debate. November 10, 2015

"Well, before I go there, I will tell you, I will bring jobs back from China. I will bring jobs back from Japan. I will bring jobs back from Mexico, where New Hampshire, by the way, has been virtually wiped out. They’ve lost so many businesses going to Mexico because of horrible trade deals. And now we’re about to sign another trade deal, TPP, which is going to be a disaster for this country because they don’t talk about monetary manipulation. It is going to be a disaster." [Source] Republican Debate in Manchester, New Hampshire. February 6, 2016

"TPP is the biggest betrayal in a long line of betrayals where politicians have sold out U.S. workers."[Source] Op-Ed in USA Today. March 14, 2016

“The agreement would also force American workers to compete directly with workers from Vietnam, one of the lowest wage countries on earth. Not only will the TPP undermine our economy, but it will undermine our independence. That’s what‘s happening. The TPP creates a new international commission that makes decisions the American people will are no longer given the right to veto.” [Source] Speech in Monessen, Pennsylvania. June 28, 2016

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster, done and pushed by special interests want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country.  That’s what it is too, it’s a harsh word, it’s a rape of our country by wealthy people that want to take advantage of us and want to sign another partnership.” [Source] Rally in Ohio. June 28, 2016

"The Trans Pacific Partnership is the greatest danger yet. The TPP would be the death-blow for American manufacturing.  It would give up all of our economic leverage to an international commission that would put the interests of foreign countries above our own. It would further open our markets to aggressive currency cheaters, cheater, cheaters, that’s what they are. They’re not playing by the rules. They’re cheating. It would make it easier for our trading competitors to ship cheap subsidized goods into United States markets while allowing foreign countries to continue putting up barriers in front of our exports.“ [Source] Speech in Monessen, Pennsylvania. June 28, 2016

“The next betrayal will be the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Hillary Clinton’s closest friend, Terry McAuliffe, confirmed what I have said on this from the beginning: if sent to the Oval Office, Hillary Clinton will enact the TPP. Guaranteed. Her donors will make sure of it. A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for TPP […] Hillary Clinton’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be an even bigger disaster for the auto industry. In fact, Ford Motor Company has announced its opposition to the deal. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the U.S. trade deficit with the proposed TPP member countries cost over 1 million manufacturing jobs in 2015. By far the biggest losses occurred in motor vehicles and parts, which lost nearly 740,000 manufacturing jobs. Michigan ranks first for jobs lost as a share of state workforce due to the trade deficit with TPP members. Just imagine how many more automobile jobs will be lost if the TPP is actually approved. That is why I have announced we will withdraw from the deal before that can ever happen. Hillary Clinton will never withdraw from the TPP. She is bought, controlled and paid-for by her donors and special interests.” [Source] Economic Speech in Detroit, Michigan. August 9, 2016

“Second, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership [during his first 100 days in office], a potential disaster for our country.” [Source] Speech on first 100 days in office, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. October 22, 2016



Methodology: Candidates included in this effort are those nominated by the two major parties to run for president and vice president. Stances and quotations that support them are limited to the period after each candidate officially declared their intention to run for president and/or vice president, unless indicated by an asterisk (*) after the date, in which case the quote derives from the time before an official declaration was made. These exceptions are being made because the quotes are deemed relevant and were issued while receiving coverage as a prospective candidate. In all cases, these additional quotes were made within the year prior to an official declaration.