One year ago this week, Secretary of State John Kerry renewed the Obama Administration’s commitment to rebalance our engagements, activities, and resources in Asia. Addressing the Tokyo Institute of Technology, the Secretary stated, "My commitment to you is that as a Pacific nation that takes our Pacific partnership seriously, we will continue to build on our active and enduring presence."
What does that commitment look like on the ground? Having recently returned from Japan and Korea, I wanted to share a few of our continued diplomatic efforts to support the rebalance.
My trip emphasized two major goals of the United States' Pacific Partnership: strengthening and modernizing U.S. alliances and pursuing a stable and constructive relationship with China.
In Japan, I visited both Yokota Air Base and U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka. I reiterated to senior U.S. and Japanese military officials that the United States remains fully prepared and capable of defending ourselves and our allies, and reinforced the message that the United States will retain a strong and credible nuclear deterrent so long as nuclear weapons exist.
During my stop in the Republic of Korea, I met with senior diplomatic and military officials, including General Curtis Scaparrotti, Commander, U.S. Forces Korea/Combined Forces Command/UN Command. General Scaparrotti and I discussed the importance of strong allied cooperation and interoperability in order to strengthen deterrence. In my meetings with Korean officials, I emphasized that the United States remains fully committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state.
I also conveyed to U.S. allies and partners that another key goal of U.S. engagement in the region is building a strong and cooperative relationship with China.
As Secretary Kerry made clear earlier this year in Beijing, "our partnership with China is critical to our effort to provide for that stability and prosperity." The United States remains concerned about many aspects of China’s military modernization and long-term strategic intentions, in particular a lack of transparency that contributes to uncertainty, insecurity, and instability in the region. This trip provided yet another platform to discuss strategic issues with China that I hope will further reduce the risks of misperception and miscalculation and enhance peace and stability in the region.
One year after Secretary Kerry’s address in Asia, our relationship continues to focus on the strengths of our alliances and on our shared goals for strategic stability. We will continue our engagement with the people of the Asia to ensure peace, stability, and prosperity both in the Pacific and here at home.
About the Author: Frank A. Rose serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Space and Defense Policy.