Tuesday's U.S.-North Korea summit was hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough, but it unleashed critical security concerns around Asia.
By questioning America's military presence in the region, President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to give his Asian allies the cold shoulder while delivering a huge win to Pyongyang and Beijing.
At the conclusion of the U.S.-North Korea summit, the president announced a halt of what he called "provocative" and "expensive" war games — drills that the U.S. and South Korean armies have jointly conducted for years. Trump also indicated a desire to remove the 32,000 U.S. soldiers currently stationed in South Korea.
"I'd like to be able to bring them back home ... That's not part of the equation right now. At some point, I hope it will be, but not right now," he said at a press conference.
Those comments sparked "a clear sense of disappointment" among Asia-watchers, according to Sam Roggeveen, a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute: "Trump made a major concession by pledging to stop joint military exercises," but "got less from Kim Jong-un than Bill Clinton got from North Korea."
America's security alliance with South Korea is a crucial element of Washington's greater Asia presence. That strategic relationship, according to U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, is the linchpin of peace in the Asia Pacific region and is widely considered critical to the safety of not just Seoul, but Tokyo, Taipei and others.
That's why Trump's Tuesday concessions are massively concerning to North Asia. They trigger immediate questions about the region's own defense preparedness and the possibility of diminished ties with the world's largest economy, according to Scott Seaman, Asia director at political consultancy Eurasia Group.
China, however, may have seen its position improve from the summit.