On July 28, 2008, the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies hosted an event featuring remarks by Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte on U.S. policy toward Asia and its evolution in light of the major political, economic, and security trends shaping the region.
JOHN NEGROPONTE: Thank you, Strobe, for that introduction and for inviting me here today. I’m delighted to be with you to discuss how U.S. policy is evolving to meet the opportunities and challenges posed by Asia’s extraordinary rise.
To start with, as you all know, the United States has been a Pacific power for much of its history. Indeed, nearly two decades before Lewis and Clark even reached our country’s Pacific Coast, an American merchant ship first docked in the port of Guangzhou. In 1833-175 years ago-we signed our first treaty of friendship with an Asian power, Thailand. And not too long after that, I arrived in Hong Kong for my first overseas assignment in the Foreign Service. You shouldn’t laugh so much, Stape Roy, because you were there too as a consular officer.
In the course of my own career, and certainly in the course of American history, our presence as a Pacific power has taken many shapes. But in 1961, when I arrived in Hong Kong, and throughout that decade, when I was working on Vietnam policy, I could not have imagined the extraordinary transformation Asia would undergo in the coming decades. Today, Asia is thriving. It has avoided military conflict for nearly three decades, and relations among its major powers have never been better. Nearly all of Asia’s economies are dynamic and market-based, and robust democratic systems are flourishing throughout the region. The 21 APEC economies, which include most of East and Southeast Asia, now account for 60 percent of global GDP and half of global trade. This makes Asia, as Secretary Gates recently said, the “center of gravity in a rapidly globalizing world.” And so, our status as a Pacific power has never been more important than it is today.