William J. Burns
Deputy Secretary
Tokyo, Japan
October 15, 2012

The video below is available with closed captioning on YouTube

DEPUTY SECRETARY BURNS: The United States is profoundly concerned, as Secretary Clinton has emphasized in a number of recent occasions, by the increasingly widespread practice of illegal trafficking in wildlife, especially endangered wildlife, in trafficking in wildlife parts involving such important species as elephants and tigers and rhinos, based oftentimes on the fundamentally mistaken belief that rhino horns, for example, can have medicinal benefits.

So the challenge before us is one of education and understanding, but it’s also one of cooperation between governments to ensure that these practices stop and to ensure that practices, which oftentimes benefit criminal syndicates and undermine the populations in which this kind of poaching and illegal trafficking takes place, is stopped as well.

So from the point of view of the United States, we’ll continue to do everything we can to highlight the significance of this problem and to encourage broader international cooperation so that we can stop the wholesale slaughter of wildlife.

DEPUTY SECRETARY BURNS: As part of our broad interest in security and stability across the Asia Pacific region, we obviously are very strongly interested in resolving disputes that emerge over territory or land features through dialogue and diplomacy. We believe that intimidation, coercion, resort to nonpeaceful means are a lose-lose proposition for everyone involved. The United States, as a matter of broad policy, whether with regard to disputes in the South China Sea or in the East China Sea, does not take a position on the question of ultimate sovereignty. But what we do take a position on is the importance of dealing with those questions through dialogue and diplomacy and avoiding intimidation and coercion.

DEPUTY SECRETARY BURNS: The growth and prosperity that we seek for the Asia Pacific region and that’s so central to the future of the global economy, obviously depends on the secure and stable environment. The alliance relationships that the United States has invested in so heavily over recent decades are designed to contribute to exactly that kind of security and stability, and so that’s why we attach such importance to continuing to strengthen our treaty relationship with Japan and with the Republic of Korea. And also to strengthen trilateral cooperation amongst the three of us.

We’ve also sought to build and expand new security partnerships with the countries of Southeast Asia, of ASEAN, given their increasing significance across the Asia Pacific region. We’ve focused on strengthening our military-to-military relationship, our defense relationship more generally, with India, which is increasingly an important defense player and important contributor to security across the Asia Pacific region.

We obviously pay a great deal of attention to our healthy relationship with China and to the importance of a strong military-to-military relationship as a part of that relationship, which I think is likely to continue to be the single most important bilateral relationship that the United States has as you look out through the coming decades.

So in order to ensure the kind of growth and prosperity that’s so important, not just to the future of the United States, but to the future of the peoples of the Asia Pacific region, it’s very important for us to continue to focus on security, to focus on protecting sea lanes, freedom of navigation, all the underpinnings of the kind of growth and prosperity that we want to see.

DEPUTY SECRETARY BURNS: The United States, as President Obama and Secretary Clinton have made clear over the course of the last couple of years, recognizes that the Asia-Pacific region is the most consequential region of the world as far out into the 21st century as you can see in terms of the share of the global economy that’s represented by the countries of the Asia Pacific region, by the fact that the three largest economies in the world today are all Pacific powers. So the United States has a deep interest in encouraging continued strong, sustainable, and balanced growth across Asia and the Pacific.

We believe that the best prescription for achieving that is to continue to promote open markets, to promote open trade, to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. And we make use of all the tools available in order to do that, whether it’s our bilateral free trade agreements, or our pursuit of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which we’re convinced holds enormous potential for the region, our participation in APEC and the ways in which APEC has encouraged the emergence of those kind of open practices across the region. In countries that are still developing their economies, we work with our partners to provide development assistance, but we also try to focus on the power of expanded trade and investment to help ensure growth and economic modernization in those countries as well.

So we believe that there’s a rich agenda before us, economically across, Asia and the Pacific, but a great deal that can be accomplished in the years and decades ahead.