Press Availability Following the inaugural U.S.-China Asia-Pacific Consultations

Press Availability
Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Honolulu, Hawaii
June 26, 2011

MODERATOR: Thank you for coming, and good evening. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell will give a read-out today of the inaugural U.S.-China Asia-Pacific Consultations which just occurred today at the East-West Center, and he will give remarks.

And following that, there will be a Q&A, and it will be on-the-record Q&A. And make sure that when you do -- when we get into that part, you raise your hands and get called on. And please give your name and affiliation, okay? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you very much. First of all, thank you all for coming here this evening. I just want to take a moment to warmly thank East-West Center for their wonderful hospitality. We have had the good fortune over the course of the last couple of years to do many programs with the East-West Center. And when we were contemplating the first U.S.-China Consultations on the Asia-Pacific region, we thought of the East-West Center, given its tremendous history and its record of bringing peoples and nations together. So we are thankful for the hospitality and the warmth we have received.

Let me just read a quick statement, and then I will be able to take just a couple of questions. I am going to read this to you, even though this is in the -- not in the first person.

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt M. Campbell hosted Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai for the inaugural U.S.-China Consultations on the Asia-Pacific region on June 25, here in Honolulu. These consultations are an outcome of the third U.S.-China strategic and economic dialogue that was convened in May, and they reflect President Obama and President Hu's commitment to building a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship for the 21st century.

The United States and China conducted open, frank, and constructive discussions with the goal of obtaining a better understanding of each other's intentions, policies, and actions toward the Asia-Pacific region. The United States began the dialogue by highlighting that it is an Asia-Pacific country with an abiding national interest in peace, stability, and prosperity in the region. The United States underscored the growing importance of both of its alliances, which are the cornerstone of its strategy in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as its efforts to build new partnerships in the region, as well. The United States reiterated it welcomes a strong, prosperous, and successful China that plays a greater role in regional and world affairs.

The United States emphasized its support for strengthening the role of regional institutions. In that context, the United States and China discussed ways for both countries to promote greater cooperation on the challenges facing the region. In particular, Assistant Secretary Campbell and Vice Foreign Minister Cui discussed each side's objectives for the upcoming meetings of the ASEAN Regional Forum, the leader's meeting that will be held, obviously, here in Hawaii; the Pacific Island Forum in Auckland, New Zealand; and the East Asia Summit that will be convened in Bali later this year.

The United States and China also had discussions about Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific, with particular attention on timely issues such as North Korea, maritime security in the South China Sea, and Burma.

The Asia-Pacific Consultations are similar to the dialogues the United States holds with many other Asia-Pacific states, and complements existing U.S.-China sub-dialogues on other critical regions of the world. These dialogues enhance cooperation, contribute to better understanding between the United States and China, and promote regional security. The United States delegation consists of representatives from the Departments of State and Defense, the National Security Council staff at the White House, the United States Pacific Command, and the United States Agency for International Development.

Assistant Secretary Campbell -- I thank Vice Foreign Minister Cui for the constructive exchange of views. The two sides agree to hold another round of talks in China at a mutually convenient time.

So, let me just conclude with that, and I would be happy to take just a couple of questions before we head off to dinner. So, please, just -- if you would, please, identify yourselves so I just know who I'm speaking with. Thanks. Yes?

QUESTION: I'm (inaudible). Would you please speak about the urgency to hold a meeting between U.S. and China when the South China Sea is such a hot issue?

And also, another question. You mentioned earlier in May that the two countries are seeking to highlight areas of common pursuit, concrete cooperation on specific projects. Would you please elaborate what you mean on --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you. Well, first of all, we scheduled these meetings a few months ago. And so the timing was propitious for both sides. We had detailed discussions from each other's perspectives on the South China Sea. The United States laid out very clearly our position, as Secretary Clinton has done with Foreign Minister del Rosario the day before yesterday, and particularly last year at the ASEAN Regional Forum.

We firmly believe that it will be important that upcoming multilateral sessions highlight areas where the United States and China -- but other countries, as well -- are able to very clearly articulate areas of cooperation on issues such as disaster preparedness. One of the things that we saw in the aftermath of the tragedy in Japan is that better preparations are possible among all the Asia-Pacific countries to better and more rapidly respond to a crisis such as the earthquake. We face common challenges with respect to piracy, and clearly there are opportunities for the United States, China, other militaries to work to combat these particular problems.

Obviously, there are challenges in places like the Pacific, that face enormous problems with respect to climate change, with respect to health, and poverty. And we think it is incumbent on states who have an interest in the welfare of the people of the Pacific and elsewhere in Southeast Asia to find possibilities for collaboration. And that is part of what we wanted to explore with Chinese friends over the course of the day.

Yes? Hi, how are you?

QUESTION: Hi. (Inaudible.) I have a question (inaudible) issue. So, why is U.S. (inaudible) navigation (inaudible) navigation? So what kind of (inaudible) have you made (inaudible) navigation today?

And, secondly, what kind of (inaudible) did you make about North Korea issue? You just had a U.S. (inaudible) meeting, and you will have three (inaudible) meetings, including Japan and Korea. So today, so what kind of (inaudible) are you getting (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Well, let me just lay out our position on the second issue, if I can. Obviously, the United States stated very clearly our consistent position with respect to developments on the Korean Peninsula. We are looking for concrete progress in North-South relations, and we believe that that is a critical first step towards a larger engagement with North Korea, with respect to a whole host of issues, with the Six-Party Talks and elsewhere. We believe that for North Korea to be effective in its diplomacy, it must responsibly first work and engage with South Korea, and we are encouraging that process as we go forward.

We have made no decision with respect to food assistance. We made that point very clear with Chinese friends. We have asked, again, for China to take critical steps to urge North Korea to reach out and to deal responsibly and appropriately with South Korea, and to refrain from any further provocations.

I am not going to say very much more about the South China Sea. We had a -- I think a candid and clear discussion about these issues. The United States, again, underscored our strategic principles that guide our approach. We want tensions to subside. We have a strong interest in the maintenance of peace and stability. And we are seeking a dialogue among all the key players.

Yes, just a couple other questions. Thank you. How are you?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) In today's conversation, did the Chinese (inaudible) say that we should keep out of (inaudible)?

And one more question. (Inaudible?)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I think I would just simply say that we had a useful and productive exchange of views. I would leave -- I think Chinese friends will be characterizing their approach. And I posit that the overall tone and content was constructive.


QUESTION: Thank you very much. My name is (inaudible) from the (inaudible) Newspaper. Before you left Washington you said that in today's consultation you were seeking (inaudible). So I just would like for --


QUESTION: (Inaudible.) And I just would like you to describe whether or not your exchange (inaudible).

And another part, it seems that your Asia-Pacific strategy is not bilateral. You were emphasizing (inaudible). So how do you (inaudible) the fundamental difference (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Well, first, let me take the second question. I think we spent a good amount of time in discussions about how the United States, China, and other key countries like Japan, South Korea, India, can more effectively collaborate together in the important critical institutions, multilateral institutions of Asia. And we recognize that those institutions, like the East Asia Summit, which the United States is joining, and the ASEAN Regional Forum, are going to be playing a more important role in the years ahead. And we think it is very important that there is greater collaboration among the key nations. And China, I think in our discussions today, expressed a desire to work closely with us, and find areas of common cause. And we support that very much.

Now I've forgotten your first question, so --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Yes. I think what we tried to communicate in our discussions with our Chinese friends is that their military expansion, their military capabilities have raised concerns in the region, and that greater transparency and more dialogue will help ease those concerns.

MODERATOR: I think that is going to close it.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: That's good. Thank you all very much.

# # #

PRN: 2011/1066