East Asia and the Pacific: Remarks at the Institute of Security and International Studies

Date: 01/26/2015 Description: Assistant Secretary Danny Russel delivers remarks the Institute of Security and International Studies, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. - State Dept Image

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Professor Thitinan, thank you so much for that kind introduction. Hello Bangkok, Sawadee krap. It’s really great to be back in Thailand and it’s really an honor for me to be here at Chula — a great, great school with a wonderful reputation. Let me start with a public service announcement. The bureau I’m responsible for, the East-Asia Pacific Bureau, now has a Twitter account, in large part thanks to former Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney, who has come back and joined our Bureau. So I want you all, if you would, to follow us on Twitter “@USAsiaPacific.” So I got that commercial out of the way.

I first visited Thailand many years ago in the early 90’s as a junior officer; stayed for at least a week or so at the home of a Foreign Service friend who was serving here, and like all Americans — like all visitors to Thailand — I fell in love. The warmth and the hospitality of the Thai people made a huge impression on me. I experience it every time I come back.

I also had the great honor while working at the White House at the National Security Council to accompany President Obama when he came to Thailand in 2012 in November. And the extraordinary experience of visiting Wat Po, the honor of being received by His Majesty the King, similarly made a profound impression on the President and has stayed with him.

So, I come here as a friend. I’m in the middle of a trip through Southeast Asia. I also have stopped already in the Philippines and Malaysia. When I leave here, I’m on my way to Cambodia. Now I didn’t bring the President of the United States with me this time, but I am here for the same reason that President Obama came to Asia twice last year and has come on an annual basis prior to that.

I came here for the same reason that so many students and business people are flocking to the Asia-Pacific and the reason that our merchant ships and our navy ships, frankly, call on ports here. It’s because the United States is also a Pacific nation. We are a resident Pacific power, and our prosperity and our security is closely linked — inextricably linked — with that of Asia. Our communities are connected by trade and travel and family ties.

And our fates are closely linked by the many global challenges that face us from climate change to pandemic diseases to violent extremism. One thing that I have learned is that no nation, however strong, can solve these problems alone. So first I’ll talk about the regional system — the regional architecture — that that United States and our allies and partners, including Thailand, have worked on and built to meet them. And then I’ll spend some time talking about U.S.-Thai relations and what we see as the pathway forward.

For many decades — 2015 is in fact the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War and the creation of the United Nations — the U.S. has worked with Pacific and Asian allies. We’ve worked with partners like the ASEAN members to advance security, prosperity, and democracy through the region. And together, we’ve built an architecture, a system of regional rules and institutions that aim at strengthening the rule of law.

This architecture, this system, has helped to keep the peace in the region, and many many nations have taken advantage of the space provided by this peace and stability to develop both politically and economically. We see this in the many vibrant democracies that have risen over the decades in places as diverse and as different as Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan.

Looking closer to this neighborhood — while significant challenges remain in Myanmar — we’ve seen a historic opening up of that country after decades of isolation. And next door in Cambodia, the agreement between the government and the opposition party last year has now created some real opportunities for reform and for strengthening democracy. And in all of these places, democratic progress and economic progress have gone hand in hand. And we’ve often seen success in one country inspire progress by a neighbor.

The Obama administration has supported this region’s progress in many ways, such as increasing our direct engagement with ASEAN, which we see as a pillar of the international order. [The President] decided to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. He appointed our first – and now our second — U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN. And he, year after year, has personally and actively participated in the East Asia Summit.

The U.S. strongly supports building up that summit – the EAS- as the premier forum for allowing leaders to address regional political and security issues, and that includes challenges like the disputes in the South China Sea. And we also strongly support the ASEAN Economic community that is set to launch at the end of this year as well.

We support, have hosted, and actively participate in APEC which is the economic pillar of the Asia-Pacific region. And APEC has done a lot to further the recovery from the global financial crisis, to empower women economically, and to ensure that growth is inclusive, that its benefits are helping people out of poverty and helping to grow the middle class throughout the region.

And in APEC this year in Manila, we intend to explore how we can help expand the practice of Corporate Social Responsibility to promote more inclusive economic growth.

Now, the oldest, the most venerable pillars of the regional order are our alliances, including our alliance between the United States and the Kingdom of Thailand, and the United States and the Republic of the Philippines. That’s true for Australia, it’s true for Japan, and it’s true for the Republic of Korea. This system of alliances and security partnerships is not a legacy of the 20th century. It is an investment in the 21st century. It is essential. And that’s true for a number of reasons.

Number one – our alliance system is the backbone of cooperation in the region and around the globe. And it stands for the rule of law when it’s challenged — and that applies for example to problematic actions to unilaterally change the status quo in the South China Sea. We work regularly with our allies to make sure that our forces can operate together in a crisis at a moment’s notice.

And America’s enduring 182-year and counting close relationship with Thailand is no exception. In fact, together we’ve addressed humanitarian crises, together we’ve responded to natural disasters, we’ve combatted piracy, advanced public health, protected refugees, collaborated on counter-terrorism and law enforcement efforts to fight threats to international security. This cooperation is important to both of us, the region, and the world, and it will continue.

But our relationship with Thailand is defined by more than the number of years that we’ve been allies, or even more than our common interests or our aspirations. Our friendship, founded so long ago, has been constantly refreshed over time — by Prince Mahidol’s time in the U.S. studying at Harvard; by the birth of His Majesty the King in Massachusetts; by His Majesty’s significant contributions to American culture, by many many connections.

Our broad, enduring friendship is refreshed year in and year out by the thousands of Thai students who come to study in the United States every year, and I hope you will soon be among them. Similarly by the many Americans who come to Thailand to study here. So for over two centuries, Americans have lived in and contributed to Thailand in various ways just as the Thai have done in America.

We stood as partners in WWI, supporting democratic ideals during the conflict in Indochina. We fought the scourge of terrorism as partners for decades and continue to do so today in facing the new and virulent threat of radical jihadism. And we’ve been partners to bringing stability and prosperity to the people of Thailand and more broadly, the region.

For over half a century, the Peace Corps and USAID workers have helped with teaching, helped with rural development. And our health care workers and scientists have collaborated on research to combat malaria and HIV/AIDS. Our law enforcement officers tackle trafficking in persons, narcotics; trafficking in wildlife. And this will continue.

We’ve also enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial economic and trading relationship. The United States is Thailand’s third largest trading partner. American companies are major investors in Thailand, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs here, bringing leading technologies, bringing high standards, and I think that the experience of these U.S. companies shows that it’s not just the quantity of trade and investment that’s important — although the quantity matters — it’s the quality.

Doing business with America means more training and more skilled development for Thai workers. It means better labor and environmental standards that promote growth. It means an engagement that is helping Thailand to escape the middle income trap and to improve the lives of regular people.

And I particularly want to pick up on Professor Thitinan’s reference to a way in which we are planting the seeds for the future, investing in the future of our relationship today, which is the Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative — YSEALI, definitely not silly. Now I understand – am I right in thinking there are some YSEALI members in the audience today? Let me see. (Pause.) Alright, welcome, welcome. Well, I’m a fan. Good for you.

I hope that the numbers will expand and that pretty soon all the students will be raising their hands. Because not only is YSEALI a project that President Obama has personally invested a great deal of priority to… as somebody who, himself, was a young person in Southeast Asia for a few years himself, he feels a very powerful connection. He’s a believer in this program. I’ve been with him repeatedly in Southeast Asia when he’s hosted town hall meetings with YSEALI members here in the region, including some Thai students who asked him questions — tough questions.

And we’ve brought YSEALI members to the United States as well, and we do so on a regular basis. It’s one way that we’re engaging with young leaders and helping you to engage with each other and to engage across national borders within the ten ASEAN countries, to help promote an ASEAN identity. With your help, YSEALI is creating a cadre of young leaders here that work in partnership with each other and the United States to tackle the challenges that you have identified as important, things that matter to you and that you see as challenges: economic development, environmental protection, education, civic engagement.

I’ve been impressed and I know that President Obama has been tremendously impressed by the quality of the people, of you, of YSEALI members and it’s great to be able to interact with you and I strongly support what you’re doing.

Now more broadly, beyond the students and beyond YSEALI, I know that this is a thoughtful group and you follow the news and you’re interested in bilateral relations. So while I’ve spoken at some length about what defines our partnership, both historically and prospectively, I also need to say something about the political developments here in Thailand and the impact that has on U.S.-Thai relations over the course of the past year.

The fact is, and it’s unfortunate, but our relationship with Thailand has been challenged by the military coup that removed a democratically-elected government eight months ago. This morning, I had a chance to sit down and hold discussions with first, former Prime Minister Yingluck, then former Prime Minister Abhisit, and then with the interim Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Tanasak.

And in each case, I’ve discussed the current political situation in Thailand with each of them. And all sides have spoken about the importance of reconciliation and their commitment to work to achieve Thailand’s democratic future.

Now I understand this is an extremely sensitive issue, and I bring it up with all humility and great respect for the Kingdom of Thailand and for the Thai people.

The United States does not take sides in Thai politics. We believe it is for the Thai people to determine the legitimacy of their political and legal processes. But we are concerned about the significant restraints on freedoms since the coup, including restrictions on speech and on assembly, and I’ve been very straightforward about these concerns.

We’re also particularly concerned that the political process doesn’t seem to represent all elements of Thai society. Now I want to repeat, we’re not attempting to dictate the political path that Thailand should follow to get back to democracy or take sides in Thai politics. But an inclusive process promotes political reconciliation, which in turn is key to long-term stability. That’s where our interests lie. The alternative — a narrow, restricted process — carries the risk of leaving many Thai citizens feeling that they’ve been excluded from the political process.

That’s the reason why we continue to advocate for a broader and more inclusive political process that allows all sectors of society to feel represented, to feel that their voices are being heard. I’d add that the perception of fairness is also extremely important and although this is being pretty blunt, when an elected leader is removed from office, is deposed, then impeached by the authorities — the same authorities that conducted the coup — and then when a political leader is targeted with criminal charges at a time when the basic democratic processes and institutions in the country are interrupted, the international community is going to be left with the impression that these steps could in fact be politically driven.

And that’s why we hope to see a process that reinforces the confidence of the Thai people in their government and their judicial institutions and builds confidence internationally that Thailand is moving towards stable and participatory democracy.

Ending martial law throughout the country and removing restrictions of speech and assembly – these would be important steps as part of a generally inclusive reform process that reflects the broad diversity of views within the country. And we hope that the results of that process will be stable democratic institutions that reflect and respond to the will of the Thai people.

So the message that I’m bringing to all of the people that I’m meeting with today and to you, to the Thai nation, is the same: for the United States, Thailand is a valued friend and important ally. Thailand is a country with whom we’ve got a long-standing history of broad cooperation on the range of issues that I’ve outlined, issues that are important not just to our two countries but to the region and to the globe.

We care deeply about this relationship.

We care deeply about our friendship with all the Thai people.

And we care deeply about Thailand’s prospects for success, and we wish you well.

Let me stop there, and with Professor Thitinan, let me try to respond to some of your questions. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Good afternoon Mr. Assistant Secretary. I am Wasit Bantong from Thammasat University and my question is, in your opinion, what are the skills needed in the 21st century for young people because in our generation I believe that we are going to face several challenges including climate changes and cyberterrorism and these kind of things. Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well thank you. What I tell young students and officers who join the State Department and join the Foreign Service is that the number one most important attribute, the most important thing to have to succeed is passion. Now, you could argue that that’s not a skill. But what distinguishes people who are truly successful, I believe, is that they are doing something that they believe in, something that’s important, and something that they love. It is certainly my experience that people who have a passion get good at what they’re doing, and people who are good at what they’re doing have a lot of fun. Now, more specifically, I think that in Southeast Asia which is increasingly well-wired electronically thanks to the IT revolution, it goes without saying that the ability to master social media and high-tech platforms is essential. Language skills are a major asset, and of course English is very much the language of commerce and diplomacy. The United States has strongly supported English-language training programs throughout Southeast Asia. I think it gives students – young people in this region – competitive advantage to be functional in English. I also believe that gaining a perspective on one’s own country and own society comes most easily when you leave it. It was true for me – it’s true for many people – that you don’t necessarily understand or appreciate your own country and your own culture until you have seen it from a distance. And while I recognize that it can be expensive and it’s not always easy – even if you’re not going far – I see great value in having some experience living in another culture and seeing your own society through someone else’s eyes. Thanks.

QUESTION: Hi. Good afternoon. My name is Caitlin Stark-Bonmeyers (sp?), and I am visiting PhD student here at Chula from Purdue University and I’ve spent the last three years living in Asia Pacific, in Japan and now here, and as an America I get asked a lot of questions about American foreign policy and politics and things like that. When you live abroad you’re kind of the representative of your country. And a question we get asked a lot is, Why…(pause). So you talk a lot about bringing democracy to other countries, and a lot of people think that for some countries, democracy isn’t right for everyone. So I don’t have the answer when people ask me that and I was wondering what your take is.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Thank you. If everyone heard, the question is what makes America so sure that democracy is right for everyone. Well, first of all, there’s a wonderful and famous saying attributed to Winston Churchill that goes something like — “Democracy is the worst system of government, except for all the others.”

Boiled down to its essence, although there are many forms of democratic government and there will always be debates about the extent to which elections mean democracy, you can’t go anywhere on Earth and show me a citizen of a country who says “my voice doesn’t matter”, “I don’t care about the future of my family, or my village, or my town, or my county, or my country”. Everyone — every citizen — has a voice and those voices should be heard. Now, there has to be compromise and there has to be order and law. But democracy and the rule of law go hand in hand.

There’s another saying that “Power corrupts.” And the great strength in my view of democracy is that it forces societies or allows societies to build institutions — institutions that will regulate the behavior of citizens according to compromise, not according to absolute principles. Abraham Lincoln was famous for saying in the heat of the Civil War that we should dedicate ourselves to government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Democracy is imperfect, but it gives a voice to all of its citizens. It builds institutions that defend the weak, and it has a resilience and a self-correcting mechanism to it that allows the voters to decide that they’ve had enough, to make their views known, and to take a different tack when there is consensus among the majority. That would be my answer. Thank you.

QUESTION: My name is Nor Fahm and I work for the BBC. Last week at the dialogue in Manila, you and the Philippine counterpart said a lot about the South China Sea, and after that the Chinese spokeswoman said that the third party countries should not get involved and should not instigate tension in the Sea. What is your reply to that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, I have regular and very constructive dialogues with my Chinese counterparts as does, of course, Secretary Kerry and as does President Obama. And we have been clear and consistent in conveying to the Chinese the area where we are neutral, and the areas where we take a position with regard to territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

The United States isn’t taking one country’s side against another when it comes to the matter of how the dispute over sovereignty will ultimately be resolved. We fully agree that that is an issue that should be resolved among the claimants themselves. But we believe strongly that it should be resolved peacefully and through diplomatic means. Where we do take positions, however, is on matters of international law and international rights such as freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight, the right to unimpeded commerce.

We oppose unilateral actions that aim to advance a claim by changing the status quo or coercing or threatening another country or claimant. That’s a principle that the United States will always support, and I believe that Thailand and other countries in the region support and value that same principle.

So our encouragement of the parties to exercise self-restraint, to apply the golden rule of not doing things to each other that they don’t want done to them, our advocacy of the principle that universal principles and law apply equally to big countries and to small, and our push for constructive, peaceful management of disputes is by no means interference. That is part of our contribution to the stability and the security of the Asia-Pacific region that, among other things, has been instrumental in China’s extraordinary growth.

QUESTION: Good afternoon. My name is Boontida, I am a fourth year student from Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, majoring in International Relations. In our studies, we have been reading a lot about the retreat of democracy and the upsurge of the authoritarian rule. So in our region here, it is a mix between the two. We have more or less democracy, or even none at all. So I would like to ask your opinion about the outlook of democratization in Southeast Asia, with special reference to Thailand and Myanmar.

QUESTION: A privilege [to be here] because I was alumni of Chula too. My question is about Thailand. You have been talking about the “un-necessity” of martial law. You have been talking about compromise and the rule of law. And I guess that you also talked to Foreign Minister this morning too. So I would like to hear how he responded to these issues. And how do you measure so far, from left to right, where we are standing now? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well let me start with the specific question and then go more broadly to the issue of the advance and retreat of democracy in Southeast Asia. I will leave it for the Deputy Prime Minister/Interim Foreign Minister to speak for himself. It’s a well-established diplomatic principle that one does not either disclose details of a diplomatic conversation, but certainly one does not speak for the other side.

I have no hesitation, though, in telling you that I think that I got a serious hearing. I came to Thailand on behalf of my government, both to listen — listen to the government, listen to the political leaders, listen to civil society, and listen to you — but also to convey our views and our hopes for Thailand. And I said to the Foreign Minister as I have said to the political leaders and to you today in the speech that the United States has a huge interest in Thailand’s success.

A strong, economically thriving, influential, politically-stable Thailand is an essential element of a thriving and growing region. We believe that the curtailment of civil rights, the restrictions on universal rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, don’t in the long run contribute to stability.

We believe that taking steps soon to end martial law, to allow for legitimate and peaceful voicing of views, and to promote an inclusive process in which all sectors of society feel that they have had a hearing, will generate institutions and outcomes in which all members of society, all sectors of society believe that they have a stake.

And it’s important for all citizens to have a stake in the political process and for them to have respect and trust in the political and the judicial institutions. Now that brings me to the broader question. There is no on and off switch that takes you to democracy in one step.

Democracy is about allowing the citizens actively to participate in shaping the decisions and the future of their own country. It’s a tough job and all of us are constantly seeking to refine and improve our systems. No system is perfect, certainly not the system we have in the United States. But the push for democracy, the push for justice, the push for accountability, the push for equality doesn’t come out of a textbook. It comes out of people’s hearts. It comes out of people’s belief and conviction that they can create a better life and a better system for their families and for their children.

I believe that the push for justice and for democracy is inexorable, that it is unstoppable. There are obstacles, there are setbacks, but that fundamental quest for opportunity and that fundamental sense of justice is universal, not an American value, not an Asian value.

Now in the case of Myanmar, after 40+ years of authoritarian rule, we have seen an extraordinary process of economic and political reform. It’s been dramatic and it’s been difficult. There are still significant challenges ahead. But I don’t believe that the citizens of Myanmar, who have experienced access to communications, who have found new opportunities, who have been able to voice and make common cause with like-minded neighbors and friends, I don’t think they are willing to go backwards. I don’t think that they want to retreat, and it is both an opportunity and a responsibility for the international community, for Myanmar’s neighbors, and for partners like the United States to help them to succeed.

QUESTION: I believe that General Tanasak has briefed you on measures taken by the government to fight human trafficking so I’d like to know if you could assess these measures and hear your recommendations as well. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you very much Daniel Russel. I have two questions. Can you tell me, apart from Cobra Gold, what are the new activities you plan for Thai and U.S. Secondly, when the new Ambassador is coming to Bangkok? Thank you.

QUESTION: About this time last year, your Ambassador in Myanmar said that there was a target to delist at least one person from the sanctions list in Myanmar. One year on, there has been no progress along that. Is that an administrative issue, or does that reflect a change in policy towards Myanmar due to the violence in Rakhine State? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: I’m here as I said to listen and to communicate. The United States uses our Embassy to do the same thing on a day to day basis. That diplomatic engagement is critically important for us, particularly in an important country like Thailand. Now we’re blessed to have a very distinguished Chargé d’affaires Patrick Murphy and a really first-class Embassy team. Trust me that there are a lot of officers who beg to be posted to Bangkok.

It’s also not unusual to have a gap of a few months in our system between the departure of the U.S. Ambassador and the arrival of his or her successor. We are working and know that the White House, when they can, will announce the appointment of a new Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand in order to continue our work.

On that regard, with respect to trafficking in persons, this is one of the many areas including law enforcement, counterterrorism, global health, trade and investment and so on where important work continues at the working level, at technical levels, because this is very much in the best interest of both countries and essential to the region. The scourge, the tragedy of human trafficking is one that cannot be ignored.

We are mindful of and appreciative of the commitments and the pledges made by the interim government with respect to trafficking — that includes the sexual trafficking of women, trafficking of labor in industry, etc. What we are seeking to do is to, in partnership, generate more measurable progress and real results. This is a topic of ongoing conversation between us in an area where we think it’s important to achieve further progress.

Cobra Gold is a regional, multi-national exercise involving not only the U.S. and Thailand but many of our important neighbors including now India, including China, and it is this year re-calibrated and scaled appropriately in the wake of the political events here. But it is proceeding and it is focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, which are top priorities for all of us. I don’t have anything further to announce in terms of U.S.-Thailand events or programs.

And lastly on the issue of U.S. sanctions in Myanmar, whether it is in Myanmar or elsewhere in the world, the sanctions and including the SDN — the Special Designated Nationals list — that identifies individuals who stand in violation of important laws, we add people when the information presents itself and we remove people from the list when we are able to document behavior that warrants it.

We believe that showing how to get off the list, what kind of behavior constitutes a path to redemption, is a very powerful and positive device in encouraging reform in Myanmar as well as elsewhere. And so we’re committed to the principle of delisting — it’s a matter of making an assessment and having the appropriate authorities concur with that judgment.

QUESTION: Good afternoon Mr. Russel. I am Patriya from Chulalongkorn University. I’m studying fourth year student, political science. Over the last few years, we have been hearing about the U.S. engagement in Asia. But recently, with much going on around the world and the U.S. involvement in, for example, in the Ukraine and in the Middle East. So is the U.S. still committed to its pivot to Asia and rebalance policies? Is it still on? Can you convince us?

QUESTION: I actually been studying in the United States for my undergraduate degree. One of the things I experienced is that people with disabilities actually get more chances at education and as well at equality. There is not much here. So do you think is it possible for the United States to have engagement on that? Because as you said in your speech, there is actually a lot of things you do to actually improve the lives of people. But you have never mentioned about people with disabilities. Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Thank you very much, great question. Let me start there. First of all, sharing our experiences and encouraging progress on civic programs, for example, to assist and to fight discrimination against people with disabilities, or for that matter, discrimination on the basis of sexual preference, or for that matter on the basis of gender, is a top priority for the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, as it is elsewhere. And the State Department is active, as is the White House.

We have a special envoy on disabilities. We have a special envoy on women’s empowerment. And these are programs that are integrated in our diplomatic efforts. I don’t want to sound just like a cheerleader for democracy, but the fact of the matter is that the reason that the U.S. government spends time, energy, and money in promoting these programs, in raising awareness, in sharing our know-how and expertise, and encouraging the development of good programs worldwide is because it’s important to our citizens.

This has been a grassroots movement and it’s a place where government has been responsive to what people want and what people care about. And as I said earlier, what people want is a fair chance. People want an opportunity. People want respect. People want justice. And according opportunities and justice to people that are different than us, people with disabilities, people from ethnic minorities, women, or LGBT folks, is not only worthwhile but an important objective.

More broadly with regard to the engagement in the Asia-Pacific by the United States against the backdrop of tremendous challenges and crises, not only in the Middle East where they are pretty formidable, but also in Africa, for example, which is facing terrible threats from Boko Haram and fundamentalist groups on the one hand, and infectious disease like Ebola on the other. The pursuit of our interests as the United States forces us to deal with these crises. We have no choice. That’s why Secretary Kerry has just gone to the Middle East and gone to Africa. That’s why President Obama is on his way soon to Saudi Arabia.

But what keeps us engaged in Asia — and I think that the simplest and clearest answer to whether you can believe in our continued engagement — is the fact that it is in America’s national interest. The East Asia region is the most dynamic, economically-thriving part of the world. We want to be part of it. We are part of it. The demographics, the youth figures, and the growth of the middle class in Southeast Asia is extraordinary.

We want to get to know you. We want to work with you. We want to study with you. We want to trade with you. This is essential to our economic security as well as our broader security interests. So it’s not because America is generous. It’s not as a passing fancy. It’s not because we’re afraid of China. It’s because America is a Pacific nation whose economic and security interests are so closely tied with your future and your decisions that we need to be part of your life.

And I would say that if you look at the number of times that President Obama has visited Asia, that Vice President Biden has visited Asia, that Secretary Kerry has visited Asia, you would see the evidence of how high a priority the U.S. government places on our relationships throughout this region. Thank you.