Washington: Acknowledging that China over the years has made itself more visible in Asia Pacific, a top Obama administration official has said the US needs to "step up its game" in the vital region by ensuring that it is a "resident power and not just a visitor”.
It is also clear that countries in the region want the US to maintain a strong and active presence, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Region, Kurt Campbell, told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing.
"We need to ensure that the United States is a resident power and not just a visitor, because what happens in the region has a direct effect on our security and economic well-being," he said in his testimony before the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Sub-committee of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"The current situation in the region not only suggests a need for the United States to play a leading role in addressing these challenges, but it also indicates a need to strengthen and broaden alliances, build new partnerships and enhance capacity of multilateral organisations in the region," he said.
Fundamental to this approach will be continued encouragement of China`s peaceful rise and integration into the international system, Campbell said.
"A forward-looking strategy that builds on these relationships and US strengths as a democracy and a Pacific power is essential to manage both regional and increasingly global challenges," he said.
"I think there has been a recognition that the United States needed to step up its game, and I think we`ve attempted to do so in the Asia-Pacific region overall. And I think there is a sense in Southeast Asia with our allies and with China that the United States is in fact in the midst of that as we go," Campbell told the lawmakers.
The Assistant Secretary said the US is also involved in a dialogue to establish a new kind of human rights dialogue between the United States and China to deal with a number of issues. "There are concerns that the United States continues to promulgate in our bilateral settings," he said.
Campbell said human rights and internet freedom are issues which are going to be part of the US dialogue with China.
"I do believe that this is an issue that is part of our strategic dialogue with China. Chinese interlocutors expect it. It would be an enormous mistake for any administration to neglect this critical dimension of our foreign policy. I think it is also the view of, particularly President (Barack) Obama and Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton, that not only is it
important to talk about these values but to live them."
Earlier in his prepared statement, Campbell said America`s deep and sustained engagement with China continues to yield progress on important international issues, such as the global economic recovery, climate change policy and efforts to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula.