We spoke this week with world watcher Robert Kaplan, who touts the Indian Ocean as a rising nexus of trade and power that could dominate this century. And we’ve focused recently on U.S.-China economic tensions and the global battle over rare earth minerals.
American leaders are certainly paying more attention to Asia, both the center and the Far East. As President Obama prepares for a much-anticipated trip to India, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touched down this week in Hawaii, en route to the East Asia Summit in Hanoi, and laid down some policy markers. It’s her sixth trip to the Asia Pacific region as Secretary of State.
The U.S. will have a “forward-deployed,” “proactive” policy in Asia, Clinton said in Honolulu on Wednesday. You can see the video and full transcript at the State Department’s Web site.
Here are some highlights from her speech:
On U.S. and CHINA: We’re not adversaries
…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.
On CLIMATE CHANGE: $21 million to help countries adapt
…we are working through the Pacific Island Forum to support the Pacific Island nations as they strive to really confront and solve the challenges they face, from climate change to freedom of navigation. And 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.
On DEFENSE: Shoring up the Navy in the Indo-Pacific
…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 we 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.
… Our military activities in Asia are a key part of our comprehensive engagement…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.
On BURMA: corruption must not continue
Burma will soon hold a deeply flawed election, and one thing we have learned over the last few years is that democracy is more than elections. And we will make clear to Burma’s new leaders, old and new alike, that they must break from the policies of the past.
On the US in ASIA: “Forward-deployed” diplomacy
Asia can count on us to stand with leaders and people who take actions that will build that better future, that will improve the lives of everyday citizens, and by doing so not just grow an economy but transform a country. We make this commitment not just because of what’s at stake in Asia, we make this commitment because of what is at stake for the United States. This is about our future. This is about the opportunities our children and grandchildren will have. And we look to the Asia Pacific region as we have for many decades as an area where the United States is uniquely positioned to play a major role in helping to shape that future.