Thank you, Senator, for that introduction. It's an honor to be introduced by an old friend, and by a Congressional Medal of Honor winner, and by one of our country's most distinguished legislators-and have all three roles filled by the same person. It's a pleasure to be here with you.
I am delighted to return to Hawaii-the birthplace of our President, and America's bridge to the East-to kick off a seven-country tour of the Asia-Pacific region.
I've been looking forward to this trip for a long time. From Guam to Vietnam to Cambodia, from Malaysia to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Australia, and American Samoa, it is an itinerary that reflects Asia's diversity and dynamism. And it complements the route that President Obama will take in just a few weeks, when he visits India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea. Together, we will cover a significant portion of this vital region at a pivotal moment-after nearly two years of intensive engagement. Everywhere we go, we will advance one overarching set of goals: to sustain and strengthen America's leadership in the Asia-Pacific region and to improve security, heighten prosperity, and promote our values.
Through these trips-and in many other ways-we are practicing what you might call "forward-deployed" diplomacy.
By that we mean that we've adopted a proactive footing; we've sent the full range of our diplomatic assets-including our highest-ranking officials, our development resources, and our teams on a wide range of pressing issues-into every corner and every capital of the Asia-Pacific region. We have quickened the pace and widened the scope of our engagement with regional institutions, with our partners, and with the people themselves, in an active effort to advance our shared objectives.
This has been our priority since Day One of the Obama Administration. We know that much of the history of the 21st century will be written in Asia. This region will see the most transformative economic growth on the planet. More of its cities will become global centers of commerce and culture. And as more people across the region gain access to education and opportunity, we will see the rise of the next generation of regional and global leaders in business, science, technology, politics, and the arts. And yet, deep-seated challenges lurk in Asia. The ongoing human rights abuses inflicted by the military junta in Burma remind us there are places where progress is absent. North Korea's provocative acts and history of proliferation activities require a watchful vigilance. And military buildups matched with ongoing territorial disputes create anxieties that reverberate. Solutions to urgent global problems-like climate change-will succeed or fail based on what happens in Asia.
This is the future taking shape today-full of fast-paced change, and marked by challenges. And it is a future in which the United States must lead. Because the progress we see today is the result not only of the hard work of leaders and citizens across the region, but the American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who protect borders and patrol the region's waters... the American diplomats who have settled conflicts and brought nations together in common cause... the American business leaders and entrepreneurs who invested in new markets and formed trans-Pacific partnerships... the American aid workers who helped countries rebuild in the wake of disasters... and the American educators and students who have shared ideas and experiences with their counterparts across the ocean. Now, there are some who say that this long legacy of American leadership in the Asia-Pacific region is coming to a close. That we are not here to stay. I say, look at our record. It tells a different story.
For the past 21 months, the Obama Administration has been intent on strengthening our leadership, increasing our engagement, and putting into practice new ways of projecting our ideas and influence throughout a changing region. We've done all this with support from leaders on both sides of the political aisle who share our vision for America's role in Asia. Together, we are focused on a distant time horizon-one that stretches out for decades to come. And now, at the start of my sixth trip to Asia as Secretary of State, I am optimistic and confident about Asia's future. I am optimistic and confident about America's future. And I am optimistic and confident about what all our countries can achieve together in the years ahead. Today, I'd like to discuss the steps that the Obama Administration has taken to strengthen the main tools of American engagement in Asia: our alliances, our emerging partnerships, and our work with regional institutions. And I will describe how we are using these tools to pursue forward-deployed diplomacy along three key tracks: first, shaping the future Asia-Pacific economy; second, underwriting regional security; and third, supporting stronger democratic institutions and the spread of universal values.
Let me begin where our approach to Asia begins-with our allies. In a vast and diverse region, our bonds with our allies-Japan, Korea, Australia, Thailand, and the Philippines-remain the foundation for our strategic engagement. These alliances have safeguarded regional peace and security for the past half century and supported the region's remarkable economic growth. Today we are working not just to sustain them but to update them, so they remain effective in a changing world.
That starts with our alliance with Japan, the cornerstone of our engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. This year, our countries celebrated the 50th anniversary of our Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. But our partnership extends far beyond security. We are two of the world's three biggest economies and the top two contributors to reconstruction in Afghanistan, and we share a commitment to leading on major global issues from nonproliferation to climate change. To ensure that the next fifty years of our alliance are as effective as the last, we are broadening our cooperation to reflect the changing strategic environment. I covered the full range of issues we face together in my remarks with Foreign Minister Maehara [MY-hah-rah] yesterday.
This year also marked a milestone with another ally: the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, which Secretary Gates and I commemorated in Seoul this summer. And in two weeks, our presidents will meet in Seoul when President Obama travels there for the G-20 summit.
Our two countries have stood together in the face of threats and provocations from North Korea, including the tragic sinking of the Cheonan by a North Korean torpedo. We will continue to coordinate closely with both Seoul and Tokyo in our efforts to make clear to North Korea that there is only one path that promises the full benefits of engagement with the outside world: a full, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization.
The alliance between South Korea and the United States is a lynchpin of stability and security in the region and now far beyond. We are working together in Afghanistan, where a South Korean reconstruction team is at work in Parwan Province; and in the Gulf of Aden, where Korean and U.S. forces are coordinating anti-piracy missions. And of course, beyond our military cooperation, our countries enjoy a vibrant economic relationship-which is why our two Presidents have called for resolving the outstanding issues related to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement by the time of the G-20 meeting in Seoul.
Next year marks another celebration-the 60th anniversary of the alliance between Australia and the United States. In two weeks, I will finish my tour of this region with a visit to Australia for the 25th anniversary of the Australia-U.S. ministerial, with Secretary Gates and our counterparts, Foreign Minister Rudd and Defense Minister Smith. I will also meet with Julia Gillard, Australia's first woman prime minister. And I will give a policy address on the future of the alliance between our countries.
With our Southeast Asian allies-Thailand and the Philippines-the United States is working closely on an expanding range of political, economic, environmental, and security-related issues. This summer, we launched our Creative Partnership Agreement with Thailand, which brings together Thai and American universities and businesses to help develop the innovative sectors of the Thai economy. With the Philippines, we will hold our first-ever 2+2 Strategic Dialogue this coming January. And last month, I had the pleasure of joining President Aquino in signing a Millennium Challenge Compact, to accelerate economic development and decrease poverty in the Philippines. With each of our five allies in the region, what began as security alliances have broadened over time, and now encompass shared action on many fronts. And we will continue to strengthen and expand these alliances, tailoring them for each relationship, to deliver more benefits to more of our people.
Beyond our alliances, the United States is strengthening our relationships with new partners. Indonesia is playing a leading role in the region, and especially in regional institutions. As chair of ASEAN next year, Indonesia will host the 2011 East Asia Summit, and as the creator of the Bali Democracy Forum, it is a leading advocate for democratic reforms throughout Asia. President Obama and President Yudhoyono [you-doh-YOH-noh] will formally launch our new Comprehensive Partnership Agreement during President Obama's visit there next month.
In Vietnam, we are cultivating a level of cooperation that would have been unimaginable just ten years ago. Our diplomatic and economic ties are more productive than ever, and we've recently expanded our discussions on maritime security and other defense-related issues. Vietnam also invited us to participate as a guest chair at EAS for the first time this year, opening up a critical new avenue for cooperation. And though we still have our differences, we are committed to moving beyond our painful past and toward a prosperous future.
Few countries punch as far above their weight as Singapore. We are working together to promote economic growth and integration, leveraging Singapore's leadership in ASEAN and the role it has played in negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership.
And in Malaysia and New Zealand, our diplomats and development experts are bringing their talents to bear in building stronger ties on every level-including increased trade, people-to-people exchanges, and efforts to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime.
In a crowded field of highly dynamic, increasingly influential emerging nations, two stand out: India and China. Their simultaneous rise is reshaping the world. And our ability to cooperate effectively with these countries will be a critical test of our leadership.
With growing ties between our governments, our economies, and our peoples, India and the United States have never mattered more to each other. As the world's two largest democracies, we are united by both common interests and common values. Earlier this year we launched the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, and one of the core issues we addressed is India's growing engagement and integration into East Asia-because we believe that India is a key player in this region, and on the global stage.
That is also why President Obama is beginning his own major trip to Asia next week with a stop in India. His trip will bring together two of our top priorities: renewed American leadership in Asia, and a U.S.-India partnership that is elevated to an entirely new level.
The relationship between China and the United States is complex and of enormous consequence for the region and world. We are committed to getting it right. There are some in both countries who believe that China's interests and ours are fundamentally at odds. They apply a zero-sum calculation to our relationship, so whenever one of us succeeds, the other must fail. But that is not our view. In the 21st century, it is not in anyone's interest for the United States and China to see each other as adversaries. So we are working together to chart a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship for this new century.
To those who still believe that the U.S. is bent on containing China, I would simply point out that since the opening of diplomatic relations between our two countries, China has experienced breathtaking growth and development. This is due, of course, to the hard work of the Chinese people. But U.S. policy has consistently supported this goal since the 1970s. And we look forward to working closely with China, both bilaterally and through key institutions, as it takes on a greater role-and at the same time, takes on more responsibility-in regional and global affairs.
In the immediate future, we need to work together on a more effective approach to deal with North Korea's provocations; to press them to rebuild ties with the South; and to return to the Six Party Talks. On Iran, we look to China to help ensure the effective implementation of global sanctions aimed at preventing Iran from pursuing its provocative nuclear ambitions. On military matters, we seek a deeper dialogue in an effort to build trust and establish rules of the road as our militaries operate in greater proximity. On climate change, as the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, we have a shared responsibility to produce tangible strategies that improve energy efficiency and advance global climate diplomacy. On currency and trade, the United States seeks responsible policy adjustments that have been clearly articulated by Secretary Geithner, and a better climate for American businesses, products, and intellectual property in China. Looking beyond our governments, our two countries must work together to exponentially increase the number of students studying in our two countries through initiatives like the 100,000 Strong program. On human rights, we seek a far-reaching dialogue that advances the protection of the universal rights of all people.
We will welcome President Hu Jintao to Washington in early 2011 for a State Visit. The United States is committed to making this visit a historic success. And I look forward to meeting my counterpart, State Councilor Dai Bingguo, in Hainan this week to help prepare for his trip.
Our relationships with our allies and partners are two of the three key elements of our engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. The third is our participation in the region's multilateral institutions. When I was here in Hawaii ten months ago, I spoke about the importance of strong institutions for Asia's future. Let me simply state the principle that will guide America's role in Asian institutions: if consequential security, political, and economic issues are being discussed, and if they involve our interests, then we will seek a seat at the table.
We view ASEAN as a fulcrum for the region's emerging regional architecture, and we see it as indispensable on a host of political, economic, and strategic issues. The United States has taken a series of steps to build stronger ties with ASEAN, including acceding to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and opening a U.S. mission to ASEAN. Secretary Gates recently returned from Hanoi, where he participated in the ASEAN Defense Ministerial Meeting. President Obama has personally engaged with ASEAN twice to signal how seriously the United States takes our engagement. We have also taken a leading role in the ASEAN Regional Forum, where we have discussed ongoing security issues, such as North Korea and the South China Sea. On the latter issue, we are encouraged by China's recent steps to enter discussions with ASEAN about a more formal binding code of conduct.
With regard to APEC, we see this as a pivotal moment-a moment in which APEC can revitalize its mission and embrace a 21st-century economic agenda. We admire Japan's forward-leaning leadership as this year's APEC host. They have defined a new path forward for APEC on trade liberalization and promoted specific efforts to increase business investments in small and medium enterprises. We have also been closely collaborating with Japan to prepare the way for our own leadership of APEC in 2011, building to the leaders' meeting here in Honolulu next year. Our aim is to help APEC evolve into an important, results-oriented forum for driving shared and inclusive economic progress. The United States is also leading through what we call "mini-laterals," like the Lower Mekong Initiative we launched last year to support education, health, and environmental programs in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. And we are working through the Pacific Island Forum to support the Pacific Island nations as they strive to solve the most urgent challenges they face, from climate change to freedom of navigation. To that end, I am pleased to announce that USAID will return to the Pacific next year, opening an office in Fiji, with a fund of $21 million to support climate change mitigation. Immediately following this speech, I will leave for Hanoi, where I will represent our country at the East Asia Summit. This will be the first time that the United States is participating and we are grateful for the opportunity. I will introduce the two core principles that the Obama administration will take in its approach to EAS-first, ASEAN's central role, and second, our desire to see EAS emerge as a forum for substantive engagement on pressing strategic and political issues, including nuclear non-proliferation, maritime security and climate change.
These are the primary tools of our engagement in the Asia Pacific-our alliances, our partnerships, and multilateral institutions. As we put these relationships to work in pursuit of our strategic objectives, we recognize that the United States is uniquely positioned to play a leading role in the Asia-Pacific-because of our history, our capabilities, and our credibility. People look to us today, as they have for decades, to help create the conditions for broad, sustained economic growth. To ensure security by effectively deploying our military. And to defend human rights and dignity by supporting strong democratic institutions. So our strategy in Asia will involve the projection of American leadership in these three arenas-economic growth, regional security, and enduring values. These arenas formed the foundation of American leadership in the 20th century, and they are just as relevant in the 21st century. But the way we operate in these arenas must change-because the world has changed and will keep changing. The first is economic growth. During my travels throughout the region, one theme consistently stands out: Asia still wants America to be an optimistic, engaged, open, and creative partner in the region's flourishing trade and financial interactions. And as I talk with business leaders across our own nation, I hear how important it will be for the United States to expand its exports and its investment opportunities in the dynamic markets of Asia. These are essential features of the rebalancing agenda of our administration.
For our part, we're getting our house in order-increasing our savings, reforming our financial systems, relying less on borrowing. And President Obama has set a goal of doubling our exports, in order to create jobs and bring much-needed balance to our trade relationships.
But achieving balance in those relationships requires a two-way commitment. That's the nature of balance-it can't be unilaterally imposed. So we are working through APEC, the G-20, and our bilateral relationships to advocate for more open markets, fewer restrictions on exports, more transparency, and an overall commitment to fairness. American businesses and workers need to have confidence that they're operating on a level playing field, with predictable rules on everything from intellectual property to indigenous innovation. When free trade is done right, it creates jobs, lowers prices, fuels growth, and lifts people's standards of living. I mentioned earlier our hope to complete discussions on the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement to permit its submission to the Congress. We are also pressing ahead with negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an innovative, ambitious multilateral free trade agreement that would bring together nine Pacific Rim countries, including four new free trade partners for the United States, and potentially others in the future.
2011 will be a pivotal year for this agenda. Starting with the Korea Free Trade Agreement, continuing with the negotiation of the Trans Pacific Partnership, working together for financial rebalancing at the G-20, and culminating at the APEC Leaders Summit in Hawaii, the United States and its partners have a historic chance to create broad, sustained, and balanced growth across the Asia-Pacific. We intend to seize it.
Sustained economic progress relies on durable investments in stability and security-investments the United States will continue to make. Our military presence in Asia has deterred conflict and provided security for 60 years, and will continue to support economic growth and political integration. But our military presence must evolve to reflect an evolving world. So the Pentagon is now engaged in a comprehensive Global Posture Review, which will lay out a plan for the continued forward presence of U.S. forces in the region. That plan will reflect three principles: Our defense posture will become more politically sustainable, operationally resilient, and geographically dispersed. With these principles in mind, we are enhancing our presence in Northeast Asia. The buildup on Guam reflects these ideas, as does the agreement on basing that we have reached with Japan-an agreement that fittingly comes during the 50th anniversary of our mutual security alliance. We have also adopted new defense guidelines with South Korea.
In Southeast Asia and the Pacific, we are shifting our presence to reflect these principles. For example, we have increased our naval presence in Singapore. We are engaging more with the Philippines and Thailand to enhance their capacity to counter terrorists and respond to humanitarian disasters. We have created new parameters for military cooperation with New Zealand and continue to modernize our defense ties with Australia to respond to a more complex maritime environment. And we are expanding our work with the Indian navy in the Pacific, because we understand how important the Indo-Pacific basin is to global trade and commerce.
Some might ask why a Secretary of State is talking about defense posture. But this where the three D's of our foreign policy-defense, diplomacy, and development-come together. Our military activities in Asia are a key part of our comprehensive engagement. By balancing and integrating them with a forward-deployed approach to diplomacy and development, we put ourselves in the best position to secure our own interests and the common interest.
This is true for our forces on the Korean peninsula maintaining peace and security... our naval forces confronting piracy, promoting free navigation, and providing humanitarian relief for millions of people... and our soldiers and civilians working closely with friends and partners in Southeast Asia to train, equip, and develop capacity for countries to respond swiftly to terrorist threats. [pause] More than our military might, and more than the size of our economy, our most precious asset as a nation is the persuasive power of our values-in particular, our steadfast belief in democracy and human rights. Our commitment to uphold and project these values is an indispensible aspect of our national character. And it is one of the best and most important contributions we offer the world. So of course, it is an essential element of U.S. foreign policy. Like many nations, we are troubled by the abuses we see in some places in the region. We join billions of people worldwide in calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi [angh sahn soo chee]; her imprisonment must come to an end. And we are saddened that Asia remains the only place in the world where three iconic Nobel laureates-Aung San Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama, and Liu Xiaobo [leo SHE-yow boh]-are either under house arrest, in prison or in exile. As we deepen our engagement with partners with whom we disagree on these issues, we continue to urge them to embrace reforms that would improve governance, protect human rights, and advance political freedoms. I would like to underscore the United States' commitment to seek accountability for the human rights violations that have occurred in Burma by working to establish an international Commission of Inquiry through close consultations with our friends, allies, and other partners at the United Nations. Burma will soon hold a deeply flawed election, and we will make clear to its new leaders that they must break from the policies of the past.
We will not impose our values on other countries, but we do believe that certain values are universal-that they are cherished by people in every nation in Asia-and that they are intrinsic to stable, peaceful, and prosperous countries. In short, human rights are in everyone's interest. This is a message that the United States delivers every day, in every corner of this region and in every region of the world. [pause]
What I've described today is a mix of old commitments and new steps we are taking to meet those commitments. Through these steps, we will listen, we will cooperate, and we will lead.
Of course, it is the people of Asia who must make the tough choices and do the hard work that will improve lives in the region. But Asia can count on us. We make this commitment for your future, and for ours. Thank you.