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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Secretary Clinton's Recent Trip to Asia

Jose W. Fernandez
   Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs
Kurt Tong
   Acting Ambassador, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Washington, DC
July 27, 2011

10:15 A.M. EDT


MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome to the Foreign Press Center. Today I am joined with Assistant Secretary Jose Fernandez and with Ambassador Kurt Tong. I ask that if you all have cell phones or other electronic devices that you turn them either to silent or turn them off at this time. Just as a reminder, this briefing is only open to members of the foreign media. So if you’re not a member of the foreign media, I ask that you please refrain from asking questions during the Q&A period. With that, I will turn over the microphone to Assistant Secretary Fernandez.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FERNANDEZ: Good morning. It’s a real pleasure to be here today, this morning, as well as to be back at the Foreign Press Center. And also it’s a great pleasure, as always, to participate in this session with Ambassador Tong, my good colleague. And I’m very excited to be here to discuss the messages that Secretary Clinton outlined in her speech in Hong Kong last July 25th as it relates to our bureau, the Economics, Energy, and Business Bureau. We consider the speech given by the Secretary in Hong Kong to be the second of a trilogy of economic policy messages signaling our commitment to elevating economics within U.S. foreign policy.

The first speech was the speech that she gave on July 12th to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Conference, in which she discussed how U.S. foreign policy and the State Department in particular are advancing America’s economic interests and America’s economic renewal. The second was the statement that she made in Hong Kong that I’ll get back to in a second. And the third will be her forthcoming speech in September on economic statecraft. To recap briefly what Secretary Clinton said and outlined on July 25th in Hong Kong, she did a number of things. But first of all, she paid tribute to Asia’s remarkable growth and example in terms of both security and prosperity.

And it’s been an amazing period of Asian growth. In conjunction with this acknowledgement, she noted that the U.S. is and will continue to be a major trade and investment partner, a source of innovation through Asia’s companies, a host to the thousands – hundreds of thousands of Asian students in this country, a champion of open markets and level playing fields, a human rights advocate, and a leader in security and stability in the region. She recognized that our futures – the U.S. future and the Asian future – are more intertwined than ever before with a shared responsibility for mutually devising a balanced economy for economic growth. She emphasized that the choices that we make in this region will be crucial in determining the character of global economic competition in the years to come, and she discussed the universal traits that are needed to promote healthy economic competition – openness, freedom, transparency, and fairness. And she asserted that all of us who benefit from open, free, transparent, and fair competition have a responsibility to follow the rules. And here we all have a lot of work to do. Just as the world created the WTO to eliminate harmful tariffs back in the year 1990 – end of 1990s, today we need solutions to a host of new challenges to fair competition from abuse of regulatory regimes to preferential treatment for national champions to systematic disregard for intellectual property.

And against that backdrop, I’d like to talk later about some of the areas that she mentioned in her speech and the steps that we’re taking to promote Secretary Clinton’s vision. And I look forward to discussing them in more detail during this briefing. And I’ll turn over the podium to my colleague, Ambassador Tong. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR TONG: Well, thank you, Jose, and good morning, everybody. And I also share greetings and great pleasure in having this opportunity to discuss with you all the Secretary’s message out in Hong Kong and take your questions and really have a chance to expand upon what was discussed in the Secretary’s speech.

There are some key points, I think, that are really take-home messages from the Secretary’s address. One is that the United States is very actively engaged in the Asia-Pacific region on the economic policy front, and that we have a clear vision and strategy for the future course of economic policy in the region. A second message is that the – in 2011 we really have a tremendous opportunity to make very significant progress on this – on these issues. We’ve got the United States hosting APEC. We’re putting in a tremendous amount of effort into the organization this year. And we’ve got the U.S.-Korea FTA pending before Congress. We have an active negotiation through the Trans-Pacific Partnership. There are really enormous opportunities here right now in 2011 for us to make important progress on this front.

Another key concern that I hope you will take home to your – the people in your countries is that, from the perspective of the United States, the Asia-Pacific region really represents a key part of the economic future of the United States. The APEC members, for example, account for over half of global economic output, nearly half of global trade, and 40 percent of the world’s population. From the perspective of the United States, some 60 percent of our exports go to the APEC region, and we expect that to grow over time. And as President Obama has said, if we can make increases in the amount of exports from the United States going to the Asia-Pacific region, this can create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States, but also have great benefit to the economies of the Asia-Pacific region. So really, we view this as a moment of enormous opportunity.

And the last point, I think, is that really we view this as a cooperative venture, that the United States is looking forward to working together with our partners from the Asia-Pacific region – and they truly are our partners in economic affairs – and close coordination and by working creatively, constructively, and energetically together. We really think that a lot can be achieved in the near term in setting an optimistic course for the future.

So with those thoughts, we look forward to your questions.

MODERATOR: Okay. So we’ll open up the floor now to questions.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Bingru Wang. I’m with Phoenix TV. My question is when Secretary Clinton traveled to Asia last year, Hainan was added as her last stop at the last minute. This year, Shenzhen suddenly showed up on her schedule. What is the implication of this? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR TONG: The implication is that the U.S.-China relationship is enormously important to us, I believe also to China, and that we are prepared to really invest in the future of this relationship. The Secretary is personally giving an enormous amount of time to it. She had – I wasn’t there, but I heard that the conversation that she had with Mr. Dai in Shenzhen lasted four hours. That’s an extraordinarily long time to be discussing very serious topics. So really, I think the point here is that we really want to work hard with China to build a better future.

MODERATOR: Other questions? If there are no other questions, I think we will conclude a little bit early. Going once.

QUESTION: Do you have more detail (off-mike).

MODERATOR: Just wait for the microphone.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. Hi Gao Qi from China Central Television. Do you have more detailed information on the next visit by Joe Biden to China next week?

AMBASSADOR TONG: I don’t have any further information for you at this stage. I think you’ll have to keep in close touch with the White House as they prepare to roll out the details of that plan.

MODERATOR: Okay. Well, with that I will – I think we will conclude there. Thank you very much for joining us, and I will try and get the transcript to you as soon as possible.

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