About the Author: Kelly McKellogg is the Deputy Director of the Office of Public Affairs in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
This year the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP) celebrated the 100th anniversary of its establishment at the U.S. Department of State. On September 23, 1910, then-Secretary of State Elihu Root called on trusted diplomat William Phillips, along with two staff aides, to organize and lead what was then called the Division of Far Eastern Affairs. Today, the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific includes a talented cadre of over 200 Foreign Service Officers and Civil Service employees in Washington, D.C. and nearly 9,000 State Department employees at overseas posts. Together, they lead American engagement in one of the most dynamic, diverse, and consequential regions of the world.
For the past century, the United States has played an important role in Asia and Asia has played an important role for the United States. Overcoming great challenges and celebrating great triumphs, we established long-standing alliances and strong partnerships in the region. Building on this foundation, the Obama Administration committed from the start to revive U.S. engagement in the Asia-Pacific through a proactive and positive approach to the region, or “forward-deployed” diplomacy, across the strategic, security, and economic domains.
In the past year, we've demonstrated and put into practice this approach through our increased engagement with allies, partners and multilateral institutions. President Obama visited Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and Japan. We celebrated the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. Following North Korea's sinking of the Republic of Korea warship Cheonan, Secretary Clinton traveled to Seoul in May to highlight our alliance. In July, following the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, she and Secretary of Defense Gates went to Seoul for the first “two-plus-two” meeting with their South Korean Counterparts. In Melbourne in November, the two secretaries marked the 25th anniversary of Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the two countries' diplomatic relations. In 2010, the United States also strengthened cooperation with Thailand and the Philippines, our Southeast Asian treaty allies, with bilateral programs ranging from security cooperation to public health research.
Secretary Clinton traveled extensively in East Asia and the Pacific in 2010, building ties with partners in the region. In May, she participated in the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing, which remains a key element of ensuring that the crucial U.S.-China relationship continues to develop in positive and comprehensive ways. As part of a larger effort to enhance U.S. engagement in the Pacific, Secretary Clinton visited Papua New Guinea in early November. She later joined New Zealand's Foreign Minister in the signing of the Wellington Declaration, reaffirming our close ties and establishing a framework for a new strategic partnership. Secretary Clinton continued to step up U.S. engagement in Southeast Asia with visits to Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam.
In addition to building our bilateral ties with Vietnam, Secretary Clinton's two visits to Hanoi strengthened our role in regional architecture. In Hanoi in July, Secretary Clinton participated in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum. In October, she attended the East Asia Summit, where the U.S. participated for the first time as a guest of the Chair. The United States also bolstered our multilateral engagement in East Asia and the Pacific by opening our own Mission to ASEAN, based in Indonesia, and through our participation in the Lower Mekong Initiative, which we launched last year to support education, health, and environmental programs in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
To increase people-to-people engagement in the EAP region, in 2010 the State Department opened @america, an innovative, high-tech facility in Indonesia designed to foster a conversation between Indonesians and Americans. We also reinvigorated efforts to increase educational exchanges with China through the 100,000 Strong Initiative, with Indonesia as part of our Comprehensive Partnership, and with Malaysia.
Looking ahead, the United States will continue to take a leading role in shaping the future Asia-Pacific economy. In 2010, we pressed ahead with negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a cutting-edge free trade agreement for the Pacific Rim, and hailed the signing with the ROK of the KORUS free trade agreement. As the third leg of our strengthened economic engagement in the region, we will host the meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in 2011.
As Secretary Clinton recently said in Hawaii, “We know that much of the history of the 21st century will be written in Asia.” Based on our shared history and our continued leadership, the United States will have a unique role to play in this region in the years to come. So as we move into the new year and our next century as a Bureau, we remember and respect the past, while optimistically looking towards an exciting and collaborative future in the East Asia and Pacific region.
Finally, in celebration of our Bureau's centennial, our Assistant Secretary, Kurt Campbell, invited staff members to submit their favorite black-and-white photographs from countries they had lived in or visited in the region. We received more than 500 stunning photos highlighting the depth and beauty of East Asia and the Pacific. A selection of these remarkable photographs is on display around the Bureau's offices. You can view some of the photographs in the slideshow above.