This was an historic and consequential year for U.S. diplomatic relations with the Asia-Pacific region. Following Secretary Clinton's announcement of a "pivot" to Asia in late 2011, the United States substantially increased efforts to refocus and strengthen its relationships across the Asia-Pacific. We witnessed dramatic improvements in our bilateral relationships and an unprecedented level of engagement with the region's multilateral institutions. As the Secretary said, the Asia-Pacific is a key driver of global politics and home to the world's fastest growing economies. As a Pacific power, the United States is irrevocably and geographically bound to the region and our future security and prosperity will be largely defined by events and developments there. With that in mind, the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs spent the year translating words into action by reinforcing U.S. commitment to this important region.
The United States is strengthening our alliances, deepening relationships with emerging powers and partners, and increasing engagement with multilateral institutions in the Asia-Pacific region. Our policies are based on the promotion of values such as human rights and democracy, support for commercial engagement, fair trade and open markets, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. We are active in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts, as recently witnessed in Palau, the Philippines, Samoa, and Fiji. In addition, we are fostering closer ties between Americans and people from across Asia-Pacific through educational and cultural exchanges, sports diplomacy, and science and technology partnerships.
In 2012, the United States deepened security ties with our treaty allies: Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand. We are cooperating with these partners to promote stability and confront challenges such as terrorism and transnational crime. Working closely with these allies, we made significant progress on force realignment throughout the region, which will make U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific more politically sustainable, operationally resilient, and geographically dispersed. The first rotation of U.S. Marines as part of our Force Posture Initiative with Australia has been completed successfully, providing greater flexibility in responding to emergencies and disasters in the region. We have taken steps to enhance our maritime cooperation with the Philippines and President Obama's trip to Thailand marked progress to reorient our alliances towards 21st century challenges. Looking forward, 2013 will be a hallmark year for U.S.-Korean relations as it marks the 60th anniversary of our alliance.
We also strengthened our engagement with emerging regional powers in 2012, including with China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. We worked in tandem with these countries to promote trade and economic growth and on forging common solutions to transnational challenges. This included information sharing and bolstering a rules-based order that operates in accordance with international law. We strengthened our security cooperation with New Zealand, pledging to work together to address the region's defense and security issues by increasing bilateral efforts in maritime security cooperation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and peacekeeping support operations. We worked cooperatively with our Compact of Free Association partners (Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands) to tackle ongoing challenges in health, education, security, infrastructure, and economic development in these island nations.
The United States continues to work closely with China at all levels. Last year's U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, held in Beijing in May, was a whole of government forum that brought together a host of national and sub-national officials. Our two countries also held the U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, a dialogue that strengthens exchanges between citizens of the United States and China in the areas of education, culture, science and technology, sports, and women's issues. In addition, the State Department transitioned the 100,000 Strong Initiative -- a public-private partnership to increase the number of U.S. students studying in China -- from a government program to a private non-profit organization to benefit the bilateral relationship by increasing student exchanges for years to come.
Our relationship with Burma made significant strides in 2012 as well. Responding to further reform measures, we eased restrictions on new U.S. investment, export of financial services, and import of Burmese products. In July, we restored a fully accredited U.S. ambassador to Burma for the first time since 1990. In September, the United States welcomed reform-minded Burmese President Thein Sein as well as Nobel laureate and Burmese parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi. In November, President Obama made an historic visit to Burma -- the first by a sitting U.S. President. These successful visits underscored U.S. commitment to supporting democratic reforms in Burma.