China Has Important Decisions to Make About its Goals and its Future
Decisions to Make About
its Goals and its Future
Source: U.S. Department of Defense,
Office of the Assistant Secretary of
Defense (Public Affairs) and International
Institute for Strategic Studies. Remarks as Delivered
by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore,
Saturday, June 4, 2005.
Tech. Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby, USAF
Thank you, John.
I hope to be here next year, and certainly I congratulate you on the progress
of this conference. It’s important. It’s important to discuss major issues of
Ministers, distinguished officials, ladies and gentleman, senior military
officials. It is a pleasure to be back in this energetic and historic city.
I certainly want to express my appreciation to the people of Singapore for their
gracious hospitality and for their long friendship with the American people.
I must say the dinner that was hosted last evening by the Singapore
government was most gracious.
A central question discussed at these forums is how best to increase security
and stability in the Pacific region. Today I want to talk a bit about that --
and about the many areas of cooperation between the U.S. and our partners here,
and about the serious challenges that remain.
Much has changed in the world since we met here last year. The past year has
been a time of promise as the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan,
Lebanon, and elsewhere have demanded at ballot boxes the freedom that they
deserve. Dictatorships around the world are losing sway, as more and more people
recognize the greater opportunities a life of freedom affords -- economic
freedom and political freedom as well.
This time of opportunity for millions, regrettably, has also been a time of
tragedy for others -- particularly those in the path of the tsunami that killed
more than 170,000 in Southeast Asia, and displaced more than a million more.
The global relief effort involved many nations that are represented here
today. There are numerous, poignant examples:
India not only met the needs of its own people; but, to its credit, it
also sent troops to help to distribute aid in Sri Lanka;
Thailand, despite its own casualties and tragedy, quickly consented to the
use of its bases to serve as the combined support facilities for the relief
Malaysia made its airfields available, facilitating logistical support;
Singapore was first on the scene with life saving aid, offering the use of
its airfields and port facilities.
Years of bilateral and multilateral meetings and cooperative operations made
possible this swift, team response -- as America’s military joined quickly with
Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and many others to provide
From time to time, some question the priority America places on its Pacific
partnerships. Yet the atmosphere in the tsunami’s aftermath -- as well as the
recent earthquake in Nias -- demonstrated again that whenever friends and allies
in this region confront threats or hardship -- whether caused by man or by
nature -- we stand at their side.
These long relationships among nations -- the nations of the Pacific -- led
many in this hemisphere to pledge support to the American people after the
attacks of 9/11. And we are deeply grateful. I am confident that our long
friendships will continue to unite us against the common threats ahead.
Consider a few of the important activities in which the U.S. and our Pacific
partners are currently engaged:
The Proliferation Security Initiative -- with some 60 nations now
working together to try to keep the world’s most dangerous weapons from the
enemies of civil societies;
The Maritime Security Initiative, combating piracy, drug smuggling, and
An unprecedented amount of trade;
Working together to combat the Avian Flu;
Military-to-military partnerships on a bilateral basis;
A repositioning of U.S. forces worldwide that will significantly
increase our capabilities in support of our friends and allies in this
Missile defense capabilities, spearheaded through partnerships with
allies like Japan and Australia, and which are now capable of limited
defensive operations against a ballistic missile threat; and
The transformation of our respective militaries to confront the distinct
threats of a new and dangerous era.
Indeed, the benefits that come from transforming our militaries were made
clear after last year’s tsunami. The U.S. Navy’s emphasis on improving its surge
capabilities, landing troops amphibiously, and supporting them indefinitely from
the sea proved critical to sustaining the relief effort across the region and in
Credit for this, of course, belongs to the American people who invested in
these capabilities over many decades. Due to their foresight, the U.S. Navy
ships were able to reach Sumatra just five days after the order to sail,
arriving with equipment that proved ideal for delivering life-saving supplies.
The United States values working with other militaries seeking to undergo
similar transformations that can benefit future humanitarian and security
Perhaps the greatest impetus for modernization and cooperation is the specter
of lethal threats confronting all free nations. Among them is the toxic
combination of dangerous weapons, rogue regimes that seek to export those
weapons, and violent extremists determined to destabilize civilized societies
and kill men, women, and children.
There is another threat that bears mentioning as well -- the specter of trade
barriers -- barriers that can impede economic progress and, in turn, can
threaten democratic governance.
It may seem a bit unusual for a Secretary of Defense to speak about trade.
But because security, and economic opportunity, and political reform are so
interdependent, any one of the three is unlikely to endure and succeed without
A nation that expects its people to unleash their productive energies into
the economy -- but stifles free expression -- will eventually have to choose
between tyranny and progress. A society that supports political reform -- but
fails to protect its citizens or provide security for them -- encourages
instability and civil strife. And a secure state that permits neither political
nor economic freedom is a system that, in the end, may fall to its
understandably restive people.
And every nation has its own history, and
its own culture, and its own approach. And there is no one model of government
that is right for every country. But a look across the globe shows that
societies that encourage free markets and political systems are generally the
societies where the people have the greatest opportunities. Most of the nations
in the Asia-Pacific region understand that very well. Their modern histories are
testaments to the benefits of self-government, of political freedom, and of
de-regulated economic systems. Our host country is one excellent example -- one
model -- of economic success.
Sixty years ago, an American Ambassador to Japan -- echoing
the conventional wisdom of the times -- confidently told President Harry S.
Truman that “democracy in Japan will never work.” Today, Japan is one of the
world’s model democracies, with one of the largest economies in the world.
Perhaps nowhere is the difference between freedom and tyranny more vividly
demonstrated than on the Korean peninsula.
I keep on my desk under a glass a satellite photograph of the Korean
peninsula taken at night. You can see very clearly that light covers most, if
not all, of the peninsula’s southern half, below the demilitarized zone,
reflecting a nation with energy, a thriving economy and a vibrant democracy. And
then you look to the north of the demilitarized zone, where all you see is
darkness -- except for a single pinprick of light in Pyongyang, the capital. The
same people in the north and the south. The same resources in the north and the
south. The difference is freedom -- political freedom and economic freedom.
The contrast on the ground is even more vivid, and more profound. The
Republic of Korea is an example of the dynamism of free people and free markets.
By comparison, consider North Korea’s Stalinist regime, where:
The children and grandchildren of dissidents are pressed into labor;
Refugees who escape are kidnapped from foreign countries; and
Where starving citizens search barren fields for individual grains.
A European doctor who spent many months treating children in North Korea said:
“There are two worlds in North Korea: one for the senior military and the elite;
and a living hell for the rest.”
Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions threaten the security and stability of the
region, and because of their record of proliferation, it threatens the world.
President Bush and the other four leaders have urged the regime to return to the
The United States also urges the regime to embrace the openness and freedom
that have helped so many of its neighbors thrive.
One nation can make a notable contribution in persuading North Korea to return
to the Six-Party talks, and that is China.
The United States and many other nations in the region seek to cooperate with
China in many fields -- diplomacy, economics, global security. Many of our
nations support the development of Asia-Pacific structures that advance the goal
of a region that is peaceful, prosperous, and free. Multilateral engagement is
vital. China can be an important part of that cooperation.
Asia-Pacific forums are most effective in my view when they are inclusive,
rather than exclusive, and when they do not detract from other existing regional
organizations. Forums that exclude can hinder efforts to find common solutions.
Inclusiveness helps to ensure transparency on security issues among nations. And
I believe transparency is critical to fostering trust and diffusing suspicion.
Although the Cold War is over, this region, unfortunately, is still burdened
by some old rivalries; and military budgets are escalating in some quarters.
These are matters that should be of concern.
Indeed, the world would welcome a China committed to peaceful solutions and
whose industrious and well-educated people contribute to international peace and
A candid discussion of China, however, cannot neglect to mention areas of
concern to the region.
The U.S. Congress requires that the U.S. Department of Defense report
annually on China’s perceived military strategy and its military modernization.
The Department’s 2005 report is scheduled to be released soon.
Among other things, the report concludes that China’s defense expenditures
are much higher than Chinese officials have published. It is estimated that
China’s is the third largest military budget in the world, and clearly the
largest in Asia.
China appears to be expanding its missile forces, allowing them to reach
targets in many areas of the world, not just the Pacific region, while also
expanding its missile capabilities within this region. China also is improving
its ability to project power, and developing advanced systems of military
Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder:
Why this growing investment?
Why these continuing large and
expanding arms purchases?
Why these continuing robust
Though China’s economic growth has
kept pace with its military spending, it is to be noted that a growth in
political freedom has not yet followed suit. With a system that encouraged
enterprise and free expression, China would appear more a welcome partner and
provide even greater economic opportunities for the Chinese people.
China has important decisions to make
about its goals and its future. Ultimately, China likely will need to embrace
some form of a more open and representative government if it is to fully achieve
the political and economic benefits to which its people aspire.
One final point. It was suggested
that my theme for this conference might be: “Asia-Pacific Security Beyond the
Global War on Terror.”
But that might have suggested that
the War on Terror -- the struggle against extremism -- is over. It is not over.
Violent extremists continue to pose a danger to civilized nations, and we need
to work together to recognize that the threat is a serious one.
The United States is working with
many of the nations represented here in this room in Iraq as well as in
Afghanistan, helping their people build countries that will no longer pose a
threat to the international order.
Since we met here last June, millions
of Afghans and Iraqis have defied terrorists’ threats and cast their votes for
futures free of terrorism and extremism.
This defiance has sent a powerful
message to their neighbors in the region and, it should be added, it sent a
powerful message to skeptics around the globe. And there have been a great many
Yet despite the past year’s
elections, some still question whether such breathtaking transformations are
really possible. And indeed there are many challenges still ahead on the road to
democracy -- as has always been the case.
But for those questioning whether
such transformation is possible, I suggest they come to Asia.
Sixty years ago, this continent was
the scene of the Second World War’s final battles. Many nations in the region
were not free, and they endured civil strife. But today, the nations of the
Asia-Pacific region are among the world’s fastest-growing centers for
opportunity, for prosperity, and for knowledge -- which is clearly a tribute to
the people of this region.
The United States will stand with our
friends and allies here through the challenges that lie ahead. It has never been
more clear but that the great sweep of human history is for freedom. And the
United States is privileged to have formed close bonds with so many Pacific
partners who also stand on freedom’s side. And history will prove once again
that freedom is the side to be on. Let there be no doubt.
Thank you. I’d be happy to respond to some questions.