Assistant Secretary Campbell Provides Overview of U.S. Engagement in the Asia Pacific

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
March 31, 2011

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and Pacific on "Asia Overview: Protecting American Interests in China and Asia" on March 31, 2011. Assistant Secretary Campbell said that the Asia-Pacific is essential to our long-term national interests and underscored key aspects of our engagement strategy for the region. He started his testimony by underscoring the United States' commitment to Japan. He said:

"Twenty days ago today, Japan experienced a 'triple blow' from an earthquake, tsunami, and the subsequent challenges associated with the Fukashima Daichi nuclear reactors. By themselves, any of these incidents would have been enough to bring a country to its knees. In Japan, we have seen the opposite. The Government and people have responded bravely and, with the help of the United States and the international community, committed to building an even stronger Japan in the future. Japan is the cornerstone of our strategic engagement in East Asia, and we are committed to standing side-by-side with our ally in its time of need.

"It is clear that America's success in the 21st century is tied to the success of the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. As Secretary Clinton has noted, much of the history of the 21st century will be written in Asia. There is no question that the region's influence is growing and holds the key to our shared future. Asian nations are vital to the life-blood of the global economy. Their opinions and decisions have profound influence from Latin American to the Middle East and Africa on addressing complex and emerging transnational challenges, like climate change.

"Despite the Asia-Pacific region's tremendous growth, the region still faces some of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century. North Korea and Burma remain outliers to the region's prosperity and continue to be sources for insecurity and instability. Many of today's most critical issues -- military competition, nuclear proliferation, violent extremism, financial crises, poverty, weak and ineffective governments, unresolved territorial disputes, growing competition over energy and natural resources, climate change, and disease -- transcend national borders and pose a common risk in the region. The rapid emergence of transnational security risks and threats demands collective action, and it is critical for the United States to work with our allies and partners in the region to address and meet these significant challenges.

"Essential to our long-term national interests is to make sure that the United States remains true to its identity as a Pacific power. The Obama Administration, following a long history of bipartisan commitment to Asia, has articulated a five-part framework for our engagement in the Asia-Pacific: First, deepen and modernize our alliances with Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines. Second, broaden our engagement with increasingly important partners like Indonesia, Vietnam, Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and most notably India. Third, develop a predictable, stable, and comprehensive relationship with China. Fourth, engage and invest in the region's burgeoning multilateral architecture. And, fifth pursue a confident and aggressive trade and economic strategy.

"Underpinning our strategy is a steadfast commitment to our belief in the universality of democracy and our respect for human rights. The U.S. commitment to these values defines the unique aspect of U.S. relations with Asia-Pacific nations and is an intrinsic and indispensable aspect of our character as a nation. It is one of the best and most important contributions that we can offer the region. We are working to promote fundamental human rights in the region and support the region's own efforts to promote and protect human rights, democratic principles, and freedom of religion and of expression.

"In order to ensure that the promotion of human rights and the rule of law as well as the development of civil society remain strong pillars of our engagement, we will continue to adopt new and creative approaches that seize the opportunities presented by advances created in our dynamic information age. The freedom to speak one's mind and to choose one's leaders, the ability to access information and worship how one pleases are the bases of stability. The United States will continue to speak for those on the margins of society, encouraging countries in the region to respect the internationally recognized human rights of their people while undertaking policies to further liberalize and open their states. We will continue to work with countries to combat the scourge of trafficking in persons, to promote the rights of women and children, and foster greater religious dialogue among the many communities of faith in the region. We continue to press for the restoration of democracy in Fiji, as well as to promote good governance, rule of law, and respect for human rights in Vietnam and China. We have already seen positive signs reflecting greater internalization of human rights with the recent establishment of such institutions as Indonesia's Bali Democracy Forum and the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), which we welcomed for an official visit to the United States last November. In Burma, we have intensified efforts to promote human rights and democracy both through diplomatic engagement with key stakeholders in Southeast Asia and by delivering our message to the Burmese government via direct engagement. At the same time, we maintain extensive financial, trade, and visa sanctions that target regime authorities and their cronies who thwart democracy and disrespect human rights. Our message remains clear and consistent: absent concrete progress in key areas of democracy and human rights, our sanctions will remain in place."

In conclusion, Assistant Secretary Campbell said, "American leadership in the Asia-Pacific is essential to our long-term national interests. The Administration is committed to investing in and playing an engaged and active role in the region. The shift of geopolitical forces from the West to the East is a defining feature of the 21st century's international landscape -- and Asia will be the main stage for these transformations. These changes will present both tremendous challenges and opportunities for the United States. We are committed to meeting these challenges and seizing opportunities through high-intensity and comprehensive engagement. We have demonstrated to the region that as a global power, we can 'walk and chew gum at the same time.' We can, and will continue to be forced to, juggle multiple challenges at once. We are committed to taking steps to further strengthen our linkages to the Asia-Pacific region to ensure the preservation and promotion of our interests."

You can read his complete remarks here.


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