Readout of Secretary Clinton's Bilateral Meetings with Chinese, Japanese, and Australian Foreign Ministers at APEC
MODERATOR: Okay. For your records, [Senior State Department Official], hereafter known as Senior State Department Official to readout the Secretary’s bilateral meetings today with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang, Japanese Foreign Minister Gemba, and Australian Foreign Minister Rudd, as well as to talk about her speech that she gave earlier this morning at the East-West Center.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thank you, [Moderator]. And again, I apologize for keeping you all waiting. Sometimes these meetings back up, so it’s great to see so many friends here today. Let me just give you a little bit of a laydown of where we are today.
Obviously, we’re in the midst of probably, for us, the most consequential period of American foreign policy in Asia, perhaps in decades. Really beginning with the visit of the Korean foreign minister with our President, and the passage of the Korea Free Trade Agreement. Obviously, here in APEC, we’re making progress on TPP, working on a variety of specific initiatives for the leaders to consider of the major economies over the course of the next couple of days, the President then going to Australia and then to Bali for the first ever representation of the United States at the East Asia Summit, also the U.S.-ASEAN meetings and the bilateral meetings between the United States and Indonesia.
Secretary Clinton announced today that she – in addition to going to the Philippines, in which we will sign the so-called Manila Declaration, which really commits our two nations to work more closely together on a whole course of strategic interactions – she will also go to Thailand to represent the United States. Thailand was, unfortunately, unable to – the prime minister – to come to APEC because of the tragic floods, and Secretary Clinton will be arriving in Bangkok next week with specific areas where the United States is going to provide urgent assistance amidst the worst flooding in the history of Thailand.
I think you all had a chance to see her speech today. It is part of a series of speeches in which she is underscoring that the United States is in the midst of a substantial pivot in our foreign policy, as we responsibly draw down our commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq and focus more consequentially on our efforts in the Asia Pacific region, built on six pillars, including our bilateral relationships, which need to be strengthened, and revitalize our new partnerships with countries like India and Indonesia, a very important set of relationships with China, the importance of trade and economic interactions.
And I think we were all encouraged by what we’ve seen with respect to the passage of the Korea Free Trade Agreement, and that has given substantial impetus to the efforts associated with TPP. More will be said on that over the course of the next few days. And of course, we are in the process of diversifying our military commitments and engagements in the region as a whole, and we are committed to strengthening our engagement in multilateral fora as a whole.
Before that session, the President had a brief – the Secretary had a brief meeting with all of the leaders from the Pacific Island nations. They are here in Hawaii as part of a major conference that is being undertaken by the East-West Center, and we’re looking forward to more discussions with them over the course of the next several days. As the Secretary said, we often say the Asia Pacific region – we focus more on the A than the P. We’re trying to rectify that and spend more time focused on the Pacific and working closely with our partners on a range of issues from climate change to the health of fisheries to the endemic health issues that basically are prevalent throughout the Pacific.
She had three very good bilateral interactions with foreign ministers that she knows very well. This was her – nearly her tenth meeting with Foreign Minister Yang. In those sessions, we underscored our determination to make progress on a range of economic issues, underscoring that it is important for us to be able to deliver a clear message to our people in the United States that this relationship is working for them. And I think we made very clear the areas that we’d like to see progress on, ranging from macroeconomic policy to issues associated to – from international [i] property rights and also to – questions related to the treatment of human rights inside China. So a whole set of discussions around our bilateral issues.
We also underscored our determination to work closely in the East Asia Summit and wanted very much to see a conversation take place in Bali on a number of issues that are relevant to all the countries in the region, from maritime security, the necessity to work together so that the region is able to respond to the terrible tragedies, like what has – we’ve seen in Ache or in Thailand or in Japan or in Christchurch and that the region as a whole does not have enough coordination capabilities to deal with these events as they transpire, and then lastly, a consequential effort designed to deal with nonproliferation related issues.
A very good meeting with Foreign Minister Gemba. The Secretary invited him to Washington in December. He graciously accepted that invitation. We’re looking forward to scheduling that meeting. The Secretary underscored that at a strategic level, the United States very much welcomes Japan’s interest in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We made clear our appreciation of Japan’s interests. Obviously, these issues are still being discussed in Japan, and we await the arrival of the prime minister, but we made very clear that we believe that this sort of interaction between Japan and the TPP partners is most welcome. We also discussed some of the other issues on our bilateral agenda, and the Secretary expressed very real appreciation for all of the areas from Afghanistan to Africa to the Pacific in which the United States and Japan work together.
And then just most recently a very good meeting with Foreign Minister Rudd. We compared notes on our respective approaches to Burma, and both underscored that we thought some of the changes taking place were real and significant. They need to be continued and – but that if there is a real determination to see reform through in Naypyidaw, that both Australia and the United States would be there to support that process going forward. We also talked about how to better coordinate on issues like policies in the Asia Pacific region and our strong bilateral interest in improving coordination and discussion with India.
I think it would be fair to say that in each of these sessions the Secretary laid out very clearly what our expectations are for APEC, in which we want very much to reach a successful conclusion to discussions around reducing tariffs on green technologies and services, a desire to make a good impression and to work closely with other nations on a strong set of deliverables at the East Asia Summit, and also to demonstrate very clearly that the United States is in the midst of a very substantial, well-coordinated effort to underscore the fact that the United States is a resident power in the Asia Pacific region and that we fully fundamentally recognize that the majority of the history of the 21st century is going to be written in this region, and we’re going to be part of it.
I’m sorry to go on so long. That’s just the general overview. I’d be – I’ll work with [Moderator], but be very happy to take any questions.
MODERATOR: We have time for about four.
QUESTION: Paul Eckert with Reuters.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Hi, Paul.
QUESTION: Thanks, for the (inaudible) good to see you again.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Good. Good to see you.
QUESTION: Of the three bilaterals that you had today after the speech, conceivably two of the partners would welcome the pivot and all. But how is China receiving, most specifically, some of the remarks that the Secretary, and more generally, this notion that the U.S. is back in Asia? What are you – what sort of sense do you get from Chinese officials?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, first of all, let me just say that when the determination was made for the United States to join the East Asia Summit, one of the first countries to welcome America’s entry into the organization was, indeed, China. We work very extensively together on a whole range of issues. It is a complex relationship. There are – it’s multilayered. There are going to be areas that we cooperate closely together. There are areas in which we naturally compete. We are a fact on the ground in the Asia Pacific region, and I think China recognizes that and seeks to work with us.
It is also the case – the point that we often make to our Chinese interlocutors – that if you look at the last 40 years or so, this has been a remarkable period for China, and its growth is largely due to the hard work and determination of its people. But the truth is that the United States has played a substantial role in that arrival on the global stage. We have provided – we have underwritten, (inaudible) of security in the Asia Pacific region that has allowed for the peace that China has been able to use to its best advantage. We have kept American markets open. We are the primary destination for much of what China produces. And lastly, we have been intrepid and completely committed to working with China in a whole host of multilateral institutions. So it’s been the United States that has supported China’s arrival in the G-20. We work closely with them in a variety of institutions.
And so we believe that the message on the part of the United States is clear that we welcome China’s role in Asia. We recognize that there will always be issues that we will have to work hard on and that there will be many issues that we will disagree on occasionally. But overall, I think Chinese interlocutors recognize the intensity of our approach and the dexterity of our overall moves in the region as a whole.
MODERATOR: Okay. Here, please.
QUESTION: My name is Andrei Sitov. I’m with Russia News Agency ITAR-TASS in Washington (inaudible) --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yes.
QUESTION: I’m looking slightly ahead to the meeting of the Secretary of State with her Russian counterpart, which you will probably readout later. But today she was giving the speech. She never mentioned Russia. So basically, my question is: How do you view Russia as a Pacific Asia power? It is a competitor, as a partner, as what?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: First of all, thank you very much for the question. And I am in many sessions in which the Secretary mentions the important role of Russia as an Asia Pacific partner. It’s something that we believe fundamentally. And I would just simply say that the speech that she gave today, she did not mention every country. It was meant to be more thematic and strategic. So I urge you all to read it in that larger context.
We have made very clear to Russian friends, on a number of occasions, that we seek to establish a much deeper strategic dialogue between the United States and Russia on Asia. And we are in the midst of planning the next stages of those discussions. I think as we look ahead to 2012, that is an area that we want to focus on much, much more. And the Secretary has indicated to the foreign minister, Foreign Minister Lavrov, potentially the idea of meeting in Vladivostok for our two countries to review our overall approaches and views on the Asia Pacific region. We work closely with Russia on Six-Party Talks.
And I must say, at a very general level, it is our primary interest to see that Russia diversify its interactions and dialogues in Asia. It works primarily with China, but we want to see deeper, stronger interactions with a number of countries between Russia, and we want the United States to be a part of that effort. We think there’s much more that the United States and Russia can cooperate on if we put our minds to it.
QUESTION: And just –
MODERATOR: Just to --
QUESTION: -- just to clarify, the meeting in Vladivostok, you mean the next APEC meeting – or a meeting between the ministers before that?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Before that. At some point in the future, we’re looking to schedule that, to think about it. All right.
MODERATOR: And just to remind, that the Secretary will have a chance to see Foreign Minister Lavrov at the minister’s dinner tonight and that the President, of course, will meet with President Medvedev over the weekend.
At the end there, please.
QUESTION: I had a question (inaudible). When you speak about maritime and international property, is there dialoguing and strategies on the other one reaching outside of the Philippines (inaudible) that is 200 miles (inaudible) with the different Asia countries?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’m not sure – and I apologize. I’m not sure I completely understand your question, but I will say that the United States takes a very clear position on issues associated with the maintenance of peace and stability in the Western Pacific, our views on maritime security, and – I’m sorry. My phone keeps ringing. I’m going to just – can you just give me a moment here? I apologize. Just give me a moment. I apologize.
The second issue is that we’ve made very clear that we believe that maritime disputes or disagreements on territorial issues should be resolved and dealt with peacefully. We think the UN Law of the Sea provides the appropriate framework for how best to deal with those issues. We think that maritime boundaries should be clearly linked to land features. We do not – we are not a claimant in the South China Sea or elsewhere. We believe that there is a much larger set of interests among all the players to resolve issues peacefully. There is a profound and deep international component to maritime security. By many measures, it’s the most important waterway in the world that runs through the South China Sea, about half of the world’s tonnage, by some measures, and a third to a quarter in terms of its value.
So we all have an interest in maintaining peace and stability in this context, and we want to work within the context of the East Asia Summit to make clear the general principles of peaceful handling of these issues are widely accepted.
MODERATOR: Yes, here.
QUESTION: Shaun Tandon.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah. Hi, Shaun. Good to see you.
QUESTION: The Secretary – in her speech today, she specifically mentioned couple of human rights issues in China, specifically the issue of the self-immolations in Tibet and (inaudible) Chen Guangcheng (inaudible) human rights lawyer. I’m wondering in the talks whether those issues also (inaudible) policy (inaudible).
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah. She raised those issues and others. It is Secretary Clinton's – and indeed, the U.S. Government’s – consistent policy to raise these issues directly with Chinese interlocutors. I think it would be fair to say that the Chinese interlocutors, Foreign Minister Yang, took onboard what she had to say. I expect we’ll have continuing conversations on these issues. But we’ve been very clear at what our expectations are in terms of improving a dialogue with Tibet and the appropriate Tibetan authorities and to try to address some of the issues that lead to the desperation underscoring these tragic immolations. And we raise individual cases regularly. That is one that we’ve raised most recently.
MODERATOR: Last one. Asian (inaudible).
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I can take one more. Yes, go ahead. Hey, good to see you.
QUESTION: Hi. This morning at the speech, Secretary Clinton mentioned maritime security and cyber security as the most sensitive issues. So does (inaudible) meetings, she talk about cyber security issue with the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yes. We – first of all, let me just say that we have underscored consistently to China that we need to institutionalize dialogues that deal with cutting-edge security issues, including maritime security, cyber-related challenges, and other issues, such as the peaceful use of space. We believe that the best way to address these issues is to establish crosscutting dialogues that includes elements of the civilian foreign policy establishment and the military. We were able to hold the first of those sessions in the spring called the Strategic Security Dialogue. We are seeking to continue these sessions. We believe they provide the best venue for interaction on matters that involve, not only the United States and China, but indeed many of the other countries in the Asia Pacific region.
MODERATOR: Last one, right here.
QUESTION: Hi. (Inaudible) with BNA.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Hi, (inaudible).
QUESTION: You mentioned nonproliferation discussions with China. Did that include Iran sanctions? And did any other sanctions issues come up? You mentioned Burma with the Australians. Was – did those sanctions issues – were they discussed?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We talked mostly about it with the – just take the last part of your question – with our Australian interlocutors about what we think was going on on the ground and how far the initial reform efforts have gone. So we talked a little bit about the dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi, some of the discussions about political developments inside the country, and what was the appropriate kinds of responses to encourage these efforts that could be taken by international partners and others.
On the first question, we did talk extensively between Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Yang on Iranian – the Iranian situation. The Secretary asked for continuing cooperation from (inaudible) on these matters and underscored our concerns about the recent IAEA report and believe that it was critical for China to communicate, both publicly but also privately, with Iran that they were on a course that was dangerous and antithetical to the larger nonproliferation goals of all the specific countries involved, both in the Security Council and the P-5.
We also discussed North Korea. The Secretary asked China to press North Korea with respect to the uranium enrichment program and to urge Pyongyang to take very clear steps in order to pave the way for a return to Six-Party Talks.
QUESTION: And if I could just follow up, were the Chinese at all concerned about legislation in the House about extraterritorial sanctions on firms that would work with Iran?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: They did not raise that issue. I thought you were going say were they concerned about issues associated with currency in the House, and the answer to that is yes.
MODERATOR: Can I just say, before we break here, that we also talked about Syria with Foreign Minister Yang, at his initiative, and concern on both sides of the table about the violence there and the importance of international pressure on Syria and on the Asad regime.
Thank you very much. We got to go.
QUESTION: Thank you.