Changing Dynamics in the Asia-Pacific Region: Implications for U.S. Business and Policy

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[The following are excerpts of the speech presented to the United States Asia-Pacific Council Symposium Capital Hilton; Washington, D.C., April 24, 2003.]

I really do appreciate your words about what things are like in the business of U.S. diplomacy. It is not a matter of prevailing. It is a matter of serving the American people. It is a matter of serving the President. We have a President who has a vision, a vision of a world at peace, a vision where we work with friends and allies around the world to pursue that desired goal of a world at peace. A world that increasingly is worded and focused on the spread of democracy. A world that comes together to deal with tyrants. A world that works on free trade agreements of the kind that was just described, Free trade agreements not just for their own purpose or to serve the business community, but as a way of generating wealth in countries that desperately need wealth to bring people out of poverty and out of despair.

The President has a vision of going after some of the great problems that the international community faces, that the world faces; famine, and perhaps one of the greatest threats to the world now, and that is the human immuno-deficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS). The President goes forward in the execution of his policies in the name of the American people, he will use all the tools at his disposal, diplomatic tools, political tools, economic tools, the brilliant United States military that we have seen at work in Iraq liberating the people. All of these elements of national power come together in the White House for the use of the President, and all of the members of the President's national security team work hard every day to make sure that we give him the very best advice, the very best council that we can, so that he can make the decisions that he has been elected to make for the American people.

And he does make those decisions and he does it in a bold way and he does it in a principled way. And the world has seen George Bush act in a dedicated and principled world and in a dedicated and principled way in recent months, and that is the way he will continue to work during the course of his administration and as he holds the reins of leadership in the United States and for the international community. And that is especially the case with respect to the way in which we will approach Asia. With a vision, with a desire to cement our friendships in Asia, with a desire to help those nations in Asia who are still trying to find their way forward find that way forward. And that is why this organization is important.

So many longtime friends of Asia and friends from Asia are here today to welcome the inauguration of the United States Asia-Pacific Council. The Board of Governors of the East-West Center deserves our appreciation for hosting the new Council and it is a testament, indeed, to the importance of the Council's mission that it has been able to assemble such a stellar group of leaders, from industry, academia, the media and government.

When I travel to Asia, journalists traveling with me will often say, "In this new century, does the United States believe that Asia is more important than Europe, or is Europe more important than Asia, or how has the balance shifted?" And, of course, my very diplomatic answer is that both sets of relationships have been and will remain essential. It is a diplomatic answer, but it also happens to be absolutely true. It is in Europe and Asia where the United States finds a great concentration of capable, like minded partners, countries able and willing to work with us to address common concerns. And certainly Asia's weight in the world will only continue to grow.

But I would also say that a question like that is really a question of the 20th century, not of the 21st century, not of the mindset that we have to have for this century. Because so many of the opportunities and challenges in the world today are not just transnational, not just transregional, they are global. …