HONG KONG -- One of the two guys now running in the U.S. will be president, so the rest of the world is hungry for signs about what the election means for them. Quietly, the McCain campaign has set out an Asia policy that's worth paying attention to.
In an op-ed piece for The Australian newspaper last week, Mr. McCain put heavy emphasis on building traditional alliances with Asian democracies. The 100-year-old U.S.-Australian alliance "sets the standard," he says. Mr. McCain also laid down a strong call for "American leadership" on trade, noting that free trade agreements with Australia and Singapore "are critical building blocks for an open and inclusive economic order in the Asia-Pacific region." In a statement voters back home might like to hear, he added: "America has never won respect or created jobs by hiding behind protectionist walls and I will continue making the case for free trade, regardless of political expediency."
Right-thinking Australians loved the op-ed. The Lowy Institute's Andrew Shearer lauded Mr. McCain's "deeply personal engagement in the alliance and our shared history," and recalled that Mr. McCain's grandfather and father had served "side by side with the Royal Australian Navy" in the Pacific during World War II.
Mr. McCain is the only presidential candidate so far who has put forth a coherent foreign policy vision for engagement with Asia, one of the world's most volatile regions. His strong endorsement of free trade was especially welcome to Asians who frequently understand better than Americans how much it has contributed to the world's prosperity.
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