Donald Trump is wrapping up his longest foreign trip since assuming office this week and it was exactly as eventful as you’re probably imagining. On his 12-day Asia tour, Trump visited Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines for summits, meetings with world leaders and lessons in different cultures. Just because Trump was on the other side of the planet doesn’t mean he wasn’t making North American news the entire time. From meetings with Vladimir Putin to ignoring human rights violations because someone rolled out a red carpet, Trump made at least a blunder a day on this whirlwind trip.
Here’s a roundup of the biggest incidents that made headlines while Trump was in Asia.
‘Welcome to Kenya’
Things did not get off to a great start. Before he flew to Japan, Trump stopped over in Hawaii for the anniversary of the Peal Harbor attack. He arrived to protests and signs that said ‘Welcome to Kenya’–a reference to the birther controversy he started regarding Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Obama was born in Hawaii but Trump spent years alleging that he might actually be from Kenya, which would have disqualified him from the presidency. Ah, how times have changed. Who’s looking at impeachment now, Donald?
— The Hill (@thehill) November 4, 2017
“Welcome to Kenya!” A growing crowd protests Trump by Honolulu state capitol during his visit to Honolulu pic.twitter.com/KnTeFJSvf2
— Jaweed Kaleem 🦅 (@jaweedkaleem) November 4, 2017
In a testament to just how polarized the United States is at the moment, even Trump feeding koi with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his first day abroad turned into an international issue. A White House correspondent shared a photo of the president dumping a whole box of food in a koi pond instead of tossing it in smaller amounts with the spoon he was provided. That turned into a whole online joke about Trump’s lack of impulse control and blatant disregard for custom. As it turns out, PM Abe had actually dumped his box of food in the pond first and Trump was just following his lead.
— Alex Pfeiffer (@PfeifferDC) November 6, 2017
MSM: Trump disrespects Japan by dumping all Koi food in at once
Reality -> pic.twitter.com/o2kh8kg6CS
— Drew Liquerman 🇺🇸 (@DrewLiquerman) November 6, 2017
Golf and hats
In general, Trump’s visit to Japan was pretty good. He bonded with the PM over a shared love of golf–Abe gifted Trump a golden golf driver–and trucker hats. The Japanese PM had white hats made with a riff off Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again.’ The two world leaders signed a few of the ‘Donald and Shinzo Make Alliance Even Greater’ hats for a photo op. Yeah, that had everyone cringing a little, but cringing is a whole lot better than fearing nuclear war so we’ll call that a relative success.
DONALD AND SHINZO
MAKE ALLIANCE EVEN GREATER
— Dan Scavino Jr. (@Scavino45) November 5, 2017
Trade was a touchy subject
Trump made several speeches over the course of his trip and one common theme that kept popping up was how he feels America has been cheated by other nations in trade agreements. He told Japan that ‘for the past many decades, Japan has been winning’ when it comes to trade. He also praised China’s economy, said he didn’t blame them for taking advantage of the U.S. (the opposite of his sentiments on the campaign trail last year) and then blamed previous American presidents for allowing themselves to be taken advantage of. Telling your allies that they are taking advantage of you and ‘winning’ when it comes to a deal that is meant to be mutually beneficial is not a great way to build positive international relations.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) November 6, 2017
— CNN (@CNN) November 13, 2017
So was North Korea
Trump has made it very clear that he doesn’t think China and Japan have taken tough enough stances when it comes to North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. He believes that the sanctions and diplomacy have run their course, meaning tougher rhetoric and shows of force are necessary at this point. That became particularly obvious when Trump questioned why the Japanese hadn’t just deployed the samurai warriors.
— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) November 5, 2017
That statement wasn’t just offensive for the obvious reasons. It is also insulting to Japan because since WWII, they are not permitted to have a standing army or wage war according to their constitution (which was co-written with the United States). Japan cannot legally shoot down North Korean missiles as Donald Trump suggests they should be doing.
1 samurais were during feudal tines
2 Japan has a self-defense-only military so legally can’t intercept missiles aimed for us https://t.co/IHdsgub7Lz
— April Spectrum (@AprilSpectrum) November 5, 2017
This was an Asia trip, how did we come back to Putin? It always comes back to Russia with Trump. POTUS met informally with President Putin during the APEC summit in Vietnam. After the meeting in which they supposedly discussed Syria, North Korea and the 2016 election, Trump reported that Putin says Russia didn’t meddle in the election. And Trump believes him.
He told reporters after the meeting: ‘He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times.’ He then elaborated.
‘Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it,’ Trump said, ‘I think he is very insulted by it.’ He backpedaled a little the next day, saying that he wasn’t sure if he believes Putin and that he stands with the U.S. intelligence agencies which have found evidence of Russian meddling and officially take the position that Russia did influence the election.
‘I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. As to whether I believe it or not, I am with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with the leadership,’ he said.
The Kremlin denied any such conversation happened between the leaders.
‘Short and fat’
Trump didn’t visit North Korea on his trip, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t take a swing at ‘Rocket Man.’ The North Korean state called Trump a ‘destroyer’ in a statement and said he ‘begged for nuclear war’ during this trip. Trump lashed back on Twitter in a way more reminiscent of an angry toddler than a president.
Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2017
Protests in the Philippines
Donald may have received some VIP red carpet treatment from the government when he arrived in the Philippines, but the citizens were far less impressed. Thousands showed up in Manila to protest, burning American flags in the street and erecting a giant, rotating Trump statue with four arms resembling a swastika.
Trump’s arms symbolize the following:
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) November 13, 2017
BFFs with a dictator
Trump’s stop in the Philippines went far better than expected indoors with Trump praising President Rodrigo Duterte repeatedly. Duterte even sang Trump a Filipino love song along with a pop singer from the country. The only problem with this newly-formed friendship is that Duterte has waged a bloody war on drugs in his country, allowing unlawful killings and even admitting to murder himself. It is customary for other world leaders to condemn such human rights violations, but Trump hasn’t. The White House press secretary said that the matter came up ‘briefly’ but would not say if Trump spoke critically on the issue. The Filipino government denies that the two leaders discussed it at all.
The Filipino president sang a love song to Donald Trump… and the next day saw Trump get confused over a group handshake pic.twitter.com/9DT98G2DbU
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) November 13, 2017
DILEMMA: Trump says he discussed election meddling with Putin and human rights abuses with Duterte; meanwhile both of these tyrants deny the claim made by Trump.
Which tyrant should I believe? pic.twitter.com/CiD1cTyDzX
— Mike Green (@amikegreen2) November 13, 2017
Trump will return to the United States on Tuesday and is expected to make an announcement on trade developments Wednesday.