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Remarks by Secretary Hagel at plenary session at International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
May 31, 2014

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL: John, thank you, and good morning. And I would note that I was just as enthusiastic when you came to me many years ago about this concept of a Shangri-La Dialogue as I am today. And I think, John, it has developed into a platform, a venue, a bridge, an opportunity, to go beyond even what you had envisioned when we first discussed this in 1999 and 2000. So I’m very proud of my career association with your conference.

I want to also recognize and thank the International Institute for Strategic Studies for its continued support of this effort, as well as other efforts across the globe, as they convene, on a continuous and very relevant way, these important opportunities to exchange ideas, and have an opportunity to go deeper down into the great challenges and opportunities of our time.

I want to thank Prime Minister Lee here in Singapore and Defense Minister Ng for their always warm hospitality, for the government of Singapore, the people of Singapore, for their continued support of this effort, and also Singapore’s leadership in this region and beyond.

I would also like to recognize a good friend, a former colleague in the United States Senate, Senator Ben Cardin, who is here with us today. Senator Cardin is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs. Ben, we’re glad to have you here and we appreciate your active participation.

Also, I want to acknowledge our United States Ambassador for Singapore, Ambassador Kirk Wagar, who is here, and for his efforts, and his team’s good work in our embassy. Ambassadors are important in the region, as everyone in this region, this room knows, and they do an exceptionally effective job representing the United States. So Kirk, tell all of your people how much we value their work and appreciate it.

A couple of others of particular note, certainly for me, I want to mention. Here in the front row is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey. Marty, great to have you with us here today. Sitting behind General Dempsey is a familiar face to all of us, all of you here – Admiral Sam Locklear, who is the commander of our Pacific Command, who travels these waters and these ways on a daily basis. And Sam, for what you do, and your team, we appreciate very much.

And one other person in particular I want to note, is a good friend, longtime friend, former United States Senator, and a predecessor of mine who was a very effective Secretary of Defense, Bill Cohen, who is in the audience. Bill, always good to have you here, and thank you for what you continue to contribute to world affairs.

Last year, I participated in this dialogue during my first visit to the Asia-Pacific as Secretary of Defense. As John noted, as a United States Senator I have been here many times. I spoke about the United States of America’s firm commitment – firm commitment to this region’s security and economic prosperity, and to supporting its extraordinary progress through our strategic rebalance.

Today, I return on my fifth trip to the region as Secretary of Defense in about a year, again reaffirming that America’s commitment to the Asia-Pacific is enduring.

In his remarks at West Point earlier this week, President Obama laid out the next phase of America’s foreign policy – particularly as we come out of 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. He made clear we will balance our diplomacy, our development assistance, and military capabilities, and that we will strengthen our global partnerships and alliances.

That is how America is implementing its strategy of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific.

The rebalance is not a goal, not a promise, or a vision – it’s a reality. Over the last year, President Obama launched comprehensive partnerships with Vietnam and Malaysia, held a summit with Chinese President Xi, and last month visited three of our five regional treaty allies – Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines – as well as Malaysia. In the Philippines, he and President Aquino announced a new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement on the rotational presence of U.S. forces – the most significant milestone for our alliance in over a decade.

Under President Obama’s leadership, the administration is also making progress in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Our State Department is increasing foreign assistance funding to the Asia-Pacific region and expanding assistance for maritime capacity-building in Southeast Asia.

Diplomatic, economic, and development initiatives are central to the rebalance, and to our commitment to help build and ensure a stable and prosperous region. But prosperity is inseparable from security, and the Department of Defense will continue to play a critical role in the rebalance – even as we navigate a challenging fiscal landscape at home.

A central premise of America’s strategy in the Asia-Pacific is our recognition that, in the 21st century, no region holds more potential for growth, development, and prosperity than this one.

But even while advances in human rights, freedom, democracy, technology, and education are all yielding better lives and futures for all people; and even as more nations are stepping forward to contribute to regional security, the Asia-Pacific is also confronting serious threats.

We see ongoing territorial and maritime disputes in the South and East China Seas; North Korea’s provocative behavior and its nuclear weapons and missile programs; the long-term challenge of climate change and natural disasters; and the destructive and destabilizing power of cyber attacks.

Continued progress throughout the Asia-Pacific is achievable, but hardly inevitable. The security and prosperity we have enjoyed for decades cannot be assured unless all nations – all our nations – have the wisdom, the vision, and will to work together to address these challenges.

As President Obama said earlier this week, “America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.” He went on to say that, the “question is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead…to help ensure peace and prosperity around the globe.” Today, I want to highlight four broad security priorities that the United States, as a Pacific power, is advancing in partnership with friends and allies throughout the Asia-Pacific:
• First, encouraging the peaceful resolution of disputes; upholding principles including the freedom of navigation; and standing firm against coercion, intimidation, and aggression;
• Second, building a cooperative regional architecture based on international rules and norms;
• Third, enhancing the capabilities of our allies and partners to provide security for themselves and the region; and,
• Fourth, strengthening our own regional defense capabilities.

One of the most critical tests facing the region is whether nations will choose to resolve disputes through diplomacy and well-established international rules and norms…or through intimidation and coercion. Nowhere is this more evident than in the South China Sea, the beating heart of the Asia-Pacific and a crossroads for the global economy.

China has called the South China Sea “a sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation.” And that’s what it should be.

But in recent months, China has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea. It has restricted access to Scarborough Reef, put pressure on the long-standing Philippine presence at the Second Thomas Shoal, begun land reclamation activities at multiple locations, and moved an oil rig into disputed waters near the Paracel Islands.

The United States has been clear and consistent. We take no position on competing territorial claims. But we firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert those claims.

We also oppose any effort – by any nation – to restrict overflight or freedom of navigation – whether from military or civilian vessels, from countries big or small. The United States will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged.

We will uphold those principles. We made clear last November that the U.S. military would not abide by China’s unilateral declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea, including over the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands. And as President Obama clearly stated in Japan last month, the Senkaku Islands are under the mutual defense treaty with Japan.

All nations of the region, including China, have a choice: to unite, and recommit to a stable regional order, or to walk away from that commitment and risk the peace and security that have benefitted millions of people throughout the Asia-Pacific, and billions around the world.

The United States will support efforts by any nation to lower tensions and peacefully resolve disputes in accordance with international law.

We all know that cooperation is possible. Last month, 21 nations signed the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea – an important naval safety protocol. ASEAN and China are negotiating a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea – and the United States encourages its early conclusion. Nations of the region have also agreed to joint energy exploration; this month, the Philippines and Indonesia resolved a longstanding maritime boundary dispute; and this week, Taiwan and the Philippines agreed to sign a new fisheries agreement.

China, too, has agreed to third-party dispute resolution in the World Trade Organization; peacefully resolved a maritime boundary dispute with Vietnam in 2000; and signed ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.

For all our nations, the choices are clear, and the stakes are high. These stakes are not just about the sovereignty of rocky shoals and island reefs, or even the natural resources that surround them and lie beneath them. They are about sustaining the Asia-Pacific’s rules-based order, which has enabled the people of this region to strengthen their security, allowing for progress and prosperity. That is the order the United States – working with our partners and allies – that is the order that has helped underwrite since the end of World War II. And it is the order we will continue to support – around the world, and here in the Asia-Pacific.

This rules-based order requires a strong, cooperative regional security architecture.

Over the last year, the United States has worked with Asia-Pacific nations to strengthen regional institutions like ASEAN and the ADMM+, which I attended last year in Brunei.

This regional architecture is helping to develop shared solutions to shared challenges, building strong and enduring ASEAN security community, and ensuring that collective, multilateral operations are the norm, rather than the exception.

To make further progress, our militaries must train, plan, and operate side-by-side – as we did after Typhoon Haiyan, and in the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

Both these tragedies – different as they were – showed that all nations of the region can work together to provide rapid humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. They also demonstrated that the need for facilities and agreements that are ready and in-place when disaster strikes, so that relief can flow as soon as it is needed. For these missions, ASEAN members should consider Singapore’s offer to use Changi Naval Base as another regional command and control hub. Some 80% of the world’s large-scale natural disasters strike in the Pacific, and with climate change threatening even more severe weather, closer cooperation cannot wait.

This was one of the topics discussed at the recent U.S.-ASEAN Defense Forum I hosted a couple of months ago in Hawaii – an initiative that I suggested on this platform at this Dialogue last year.

Over the course of that three-day forum, my discussions with ASEAN defense ministers highlighted a clear and shared interest in building a common understanding of the regional security environment, including more information-sharing, greater maritime cooperation, and more joint and combined exercises.

A common picture of the region’s maritime space could help deter provocative conduct, and reduce the risk of accidents and miscalculation. So I am asking Admiral Sam Locklear, who leads the United States Pacific Command, to host his regional counterparts to discuss concrete ways to establish greater maritime security awareness and coordination.

The United States is also reaching out to China. We’re reaching out to China because we seek to expand prosperity and security for all nations of this region.

As I underscored in Beijing last month during my visit to China, the United States will continue to advance President Obama and President Xi’s shared commitment to develop a new model of relations – a model that builds cooperation, manages competition, and avoids rivalry. To help develop this model, we are increasing our military-to-military engagement with China through our joint exercises, exchanges, and other confidence-building measures that can help improve communication and build understanding between our forces. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dempsey and I have led this effort, and we will continue to focus on building this new military-to-military model. And I am glad General Dempsey is here to help us today accomplish more progress in this area.

We must also work more closely together to guard against North Korea’s destabilizing provocations, and its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which threaten regional stability and China’s own interests. The United States is looking to China to play a more active and constructive role in meeting this challenge and achieving complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The U.S.-China military-to-military dialogue has a long way to go. But I think we’ve been encouraged by the progress we’ve made, and continue to make. Our dialogue is becoming more direct, more constructive…getting at the real issues and delivering more results.

As we expand this dialogue, the United States also supports a sustained and substantive exchange with China on cyber issues. Although China has announced a suspension of the U.S.-China Cyber Working Group, we will continue to raise cyber issues with our Chinese counterparts, because dialogue is essential for reducing the risk of miscalculation and escalation in cyberspace.

As America strengthens its ties across the Asia-Pacific, we also welcome the region’s democratic development. We welcome democratic development because democracies are America’s closest friends, and because democracies are much more likely to live with their neighbors in peace.

The United States will continue to strongly support our friends who are pursuing democratic development – in Myanmar and elsewhere around the region. We will also respond when nations retreat from democracy, as in Thailand. We urge the Royal Thai Armed Forces to release those who have been detained, end restrictions on free expression, and move immediately to restore power to the people of Thailand, through free and fair elections. Until that happens, as U.S. law requires, the Department of Defense is suspending and reconsidering U.S. military assistance and engagements with Bangkok.

The Asia-Pacific’s shifting security landscape makes America’s partnerships and alliances indispensable as anchors for regional stability. As we work to build a cooperative regional architecture, we are also modernizing our alliances, helping allies and partners develop new and advanced capabilities, and encouraging them to work more closely together.

In Southeast Asia, that means continuing to help nations build their humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities, and upgrade their militaries. One important example is our first-ever sale of Apache helicopters to Indonesia, which I announced during my visit to Jakarta last year. This sale will help the Indonesian Army defend its borders, conduct counter-piracy operations, and control the free flow of shipping through the Straits of Malacca. We are also providing robust assistance to the Philippines’ armed forces, to strengthen their maritime and aviation capabilities.

In Northeast Asia, our capacity-building efforts include strengthening Allies’ capabilities with sophisticated aircraft and ballistic missile defense – especially to deter and defend against provocation by Pyongyang.

Two months ago, we signed an agreement with the Republic of Korea. We signed that agreement for its purchase of Global Hawk, which will dramatically enhance its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. South Korea also intends to acquire the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – which means that America and its most capable allies in this region, including Australia and Japan, will soon be operating the world’s most advanced, fifth-generation tactical aircraft.

We are also making significant progress in building a robust regional missile defense system. Last month in Tokyo, I announced that the United States will deploy two additional ballistic missile defense ships to Japan – a step that builds on the construction of a second missile defense radar site in Japan, and the expansion of America’s ground-based interceptors in the continental United States, which I reviewed this week in Alaska during my trip to Singapore.

Modernizing our alliances also means strengthening the ties between America’s allies, enhancing their joint capabilities – such as missile defense – and encouraging them to become security providers themselves. Yesterday, I held a trilateral meeting with my counterparts from Australia and Japan, and today I will host another trilateral meeting with my counterparts from Korea and Japan.

The enhanced cooperation America is pursuing with these close allies comes at a time when each of them is choosing to expand their roles in providing security around the Asia-Pacific region, including in Southeast Asia. Seven decades after World War II, the United States welcomes this development. We support South Korea’s more active participation in maritime security, peacekeeping, and stabilization operations. We also support Japan’s new efforts – as Prime Minister Abe described very well last night – to reorient its Collective Self Defense posture toward actively helping build a peaceful and resilient regional order.

To complement these efforts, the United States and Japan have begun revising our defense guidelines for our first time in more than two decades. We will ensure that our alliance evolves to reflect the shifting security environment, and the growing capabilities of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces.

America’s global partnerships also reach across the Asian continent and extend to India, one of the United States’ most important, democratic partners – and a country with historic influence across Asia.

The United States looks forward to working with India’s new government led by Prime Minister Modi. We welcome India’s increasingly active role in Asia’s regional institutions, which strengthens regional order. We also welcome India’s growing defense capabilities and its commitment to freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean. To further strengthen U.S.-India defense ties, I am directing the Pentagon’s Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to lead the U.S.-India Defense Trade and Technology Initiative with India’s new government. I plan to play an active and very personal role in expanding this initiative because it is a centerpiece of America’s defense cooperation with India, and it should reflect the trust and confidence President Obama and I have in our nation’s relationship with India. To reinforce this effort – and to drive even more transformational cooperation – I hope to visit India later this year.

The United States also remains committed to building the capacity of allies and partners in the region through as many as 130 exercises and engagements, and approximately 700 port visits annually. And across the Asia-Pacific region, as part of the rebalance, the United States is planning to increase Foreign Military Financing by 35%, and military education and training by 40% by 2016.

Next month, the United States will host its annual Rim of the Pacific exercise, the world’s largest maritime exercise that will feature for the first time a port visit by a New Zealand naval ship to Pearl Harbor in more than 30 years, and it will include Chinese ships for the first time. All told, RIMPAC will include some 23 nations, 49 surface ships, 6 submarines, more than 200 aircraft, 25,000 personnel, and even, I understand, a few highly trained sea lions.

Beyond capacity-building efforts, a stable and peaceful regional order depends on a strong American military presence across the Asia-Pacific region… a presence that enables us to partner with our friends and allies, and help deter aggression. We are no strangers to this part of the world. America has been a Pacific power for many years. Our interests lie in these partnerships and this region.

Today, America has more peacetime military engagement in the Asia-Pacific than ever before. I want to repeat: today, America has more peacetime military engagement in the Asia-Pacific than ever before. And America’s strong military presence – and our role in underwriting the region’s security – will endure. Our friends and allies can judge us on nearly seven decades of commitment and history of commitment. That history makes clear, America keeps its word.

America’s treaty alliances remain the backbone of our presence in the Asia-Pacific, and our friends and allies have seen our significant steps in recent years to enhance our posture in Northeast Asia, to expand our partnerships in Southeast Asia, and to ensure our forces can operate effectively regardless of other nations’ capabilities.

Consider that just three years ago, the strength of our alliance with Japan was being overshadowed by disagreements over the future of the U.S. presence in Okinawa.

Today, we have a fully agreed force realignment roadmap, and we achieved a major breakthrough last December with the approval of the permit to build the Futenma Replacement Facility. We have also deployed our most advanced capabilities to Japan – including two Global Hawks at Misawa, F-22 fighter aircraft at Kadena, and MV-22 Ospreys on Okinawa.

Meanwhile, we are enhancing our posture on the Korean Peninsula and sustaining the readiness of our forces. To reflect a dynamic security environment, including the evolving North Korean nuclear and missile threat, the U.S. and South Korea decided we can reconsider the current timeline for the transition of wartime operational control to a Seoul-led defense in 2015. We have enhanced the U.S. Army’s force posture and deployed even more advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. And we recently reached a new Special Measures Agreement that codifies our shared resource commitment to defending the peninsula.

Further south, we have strengthened our partnership and alliance with Australia. Three years ago, we had no forces operating in Australia. Today, we have more than 1,000 Marines rotationally deployed in Darwin. With Australian troops, these Marines will conduct training and exercises throughout the region.

In the coming years, the United States will increase its advanced capabilities that are forward-stationed and forward-deployed in the entire region, particularly as we draw down our forces in Afghanistan. And we will ensure that we sustain our freedom of action in the face of disruptive new military technologies.

Next year, the Navy will introduce the Joint High Speed Vessel in the Pacific and an additional submarine forward-stationed in Guam. As many as four Littoral Combat Ships will be deployed here by 2017. By 2018, the Navy’s advanced, multi-mission Zumwalt-class destroyer will begin operating out of the Pacific. And by 2020, as we achieve our target of operating 60% of both our Navy and Air Force fleets out of the Pacific, we will also be flying the Hawkeye early warning and unmanned Triton ISR aircraft in the region.

Because U.S. force posture in Asia is a priority for DoD, I am directing our Deputy Secretary of Defense to oversee the implementation of our ongoing enhancements to America’s military presence in this region, and with particular emphasis on our posture in Japan, Korea, and Guam. The Deputy Secretary will also continuously review the posture of our forces, to ensure they remain prepared for all necessary contingencies.

Finally, to ensure that the rebalance is fully implemented, both President Obama and I remain committed to ensuring that any reductions in U.S. defense spending do not come – do not come – at the expense of America’s commitments in the Asia-Pacific.

Here, and around the world, a peaceful, prosperous, and durable order will not sustain itself. The nations of the Asia-Pacific must come together to accomplish this.

We must support the peaceful resolution of disputes…and oppose intimidation and coercion no matter where they are.

We must build a cooperative regional security architecture that builds trust and confidence.

And we must continue to develop, share, and maintain advanced military capabilities that can adapt to rapidly growing challenges.

From Europe to Asia, America has led this effort for nearly seven decades, and we are committed to maintaining our leadership in the 21st century.

Later this morning, I will meet with Vietnamese General Thanh. General Thanh joined the Vietnamese army in 1967, the same year I joined the United States Army and arrived in Vietnam. Today, General Thanh and I will meet as America’s Secretary of Defense and Vietnam’s Minister of Defense…working to strengthen our nations’ emerging defense ties. History is full of irony, which is why America must lead and will continue to lead with humility.

But America must lead, and our leadership must always reflect an enduring truth: As United States Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and General George Marshall once said, “the strength of a nation does not depend alone on its armies, ships, and planes…[but] is also measured by…the strength of its friends and [its] allies.” Very wise words from General Marshall. Those words ring more true today than ever before.

Today, perhaps more than ever, one of America’s greatest sources of strength is its network of partners and allies. As President Obama put it at his West Point speech, from Europe to Asia, America is “the hub of alliances unrivalled in … history of nations.”

Across this region, and across the globe, the United States has been – and always will be – committed to a peaceful and prosperous international order that rests not merely on America’s own might, but on our enduring unity and partnership with other nations.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for a very wide-ranging and comprehensive speech and one that will be very difficult to summarize, but I hope you won't mind my repeating a third time the phrase that you repeated twice -- America has more peacetime military engagement in the Asia Pacific than every before.

We're opening now to questions and comments. We have -- (inaudible) -- if you want -- (inaudible) -- please put your nametag into the -- (inaudible) -- press the button, the microphone will turn green, it won't turn on until I turn it on, but as a consequence we’ll have a very comprehensive list of those people who want the floor and will be able to select you and then turn on your microphone for you as I call you.

Professor (inaudible)?

Q: Thank you very much, indeed. Secretary Hagel, you have eloquently laid out the extent of the U.S. commitment to the security of this region. Now, your Polish colleague, Secretary of Defense Siemoniak, has called a couple of weeks ago for a repivot from the rebalance to Asia, and in talking that way, he was, I think, speaking for quite a number of Europeans. And given the rising security challenges at both ends of the Eurasian land mass and Ukraine in the west and in the east in South China Sea, to the east, can the United States of America uphold all of its treaty commitments without a reversal of the trend towards the reduction of your defense budget? Thank you.

SEC. HAGEL: Thank you. Yes, we can, and we intend to do that. And I think our actions are very clear on that -- on that point.

There are a couple of specific points. One is, it's clear, I think, in the minds of most geopolitical thinkers and certainly observers that Russia's very dangerous, provocative actions in Ukraine has probably done as much to galvanize NATO as any one action that I'm aware of in many years.

In the immortal words of Winston Churchill, who once noted the jarring gong of reality, that was a jarring gong of reality. NATO has been the most effective collective security institution in the history of man. This is going to force all of our NATO partners to take another look at each of our commitments to our own defense budgets, recognizing that the threats are still there, regardless of where you are in the world.

The capabilities of our NATO partners, I might add, has increased, as well. The coordination of our efforts with our NATO partners has increased. Poland is a very, very explicit example, what the Poles are doing to lead in NATO, as not only in the area of defense spending, but capability.

As you know, the United States has repositioned a number of its assets in the Baltics along the Black Sea in response. So, yes, we are fully capable and prepared to fulfill all of our treaty commitments in the world, recognizing, I think, some of my comments, but in particular if you read the full text of President Obama's speech, he recognized that, as well, and he actually addressed some of those issues.

So -- (inaudible) -- again, it very much is about capacity, capability building of our partners, as the president said, as I said, continuing to strengthen and build alliances, alliances of common interests, collective security. That's the strength that we bring to each other. So we will -- we will fulfill our commitments to all of our treaty partners and our obligations. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Professor (inaudible) from Indonesia?

Q: Thank you very much, general. Secretary Hagel, I really enjoyed your comprehensive speech and very heartened to hear -- (inaudible) -- the commitment of the United States – towards the region -- (inaudible) -- you assert the U.S. leadership, global leadership, which is considered to be non-negotiable. At the same time, you talk about support for regional security architecture, which for this type of work -- (inaudible) -- that most of the regional architecture is ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations]-driven, is actually written in the ASEAN charter.

And as you know from the political perspective, the prime minister has repeatedly talked about the dynamic equilibrium in which no one particular state should be allowed to dominate, because in a cooperative architecture, it's much more inclusive. It is impossible to have a proactive system in a place where there are so many contesting powers.

So how does the United States see the alignment of this? How can we square the circle, so to speak? Because the Asia Pacific theater, as we know, it's very, very different from Western Europe, where there is a NATO, where here we are still in a very, very difficult situation. Thank you.

SEC. HAGEL: Well -- (inaudible) -- your question is a very relevant question. And I'll answer it this way. It's clear -- it always has been, and I referenced it, the president has referenced it many times, more in his speech, again, at West Point -- but -- (inaudible) -- responsible nation-states respect the sovereignty of each other, the sovereignty of other nations, recognizing that each nation has its own specific interests. So that's a -- (inaudible) -- given that we all acknowledge.

That is not, however, mutually exclusive from common interests. So we mentioned NATO and it is geographically a different dynamic, as you have noted, than the Asia Pacific, but -- (inaudible) -- nations of ASEAN, all the nations of the Asia Pacific, which include the United States of Pacific nations, South America, all nations that touch the Pacific, have common interests.

Certainly, if we just focus on economic interests, freedom of the sea lanes, maritime navigation, airways, cyberspace, those are not indigenous interests to any one nation. They are interests for all of us. So, therefore, if there are such interests that flow from just that one example, then aren't we wiser to find ways to collaborate through institutions of common interests, like ASEAN, why ASEAN was formed, why ASEAN added to its numbers from the beginning, why NATO added to its numbers, why all alliances, if they're growing and if they're in the interest of all of their members, will add to their numbers.

Each nation must play a role, however. To your point about the domination of any one nation, that's right. You heard in my remarks, as President Obama made in his remarks, we were encouraging more participation of defense capabilities. We are helping build more capacity and capabilities in our ASEAN partners, in our NATO partners. All nations must take some responsibility for their individual security, but also if they are going to participate in a collective security or any kind of alliance, they, too, must participate. So that's how you square the circle.

MODERATOR: (off mic)

Q: Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Hagel, for your very powerful and straightforward speech -- (inaudible) -- do you consider the nationalization of the -- (inaudible) – islands in 2014 a consolidation of status quo in East China Sea or a unilateral challenge of status quo?

And do you consider sovereignty is equal to administrative or administration? Because your position -- the U.S. position is to take no position of sovereignty -- (inaudible) -- treaty covers the disputed Diaoyu Island, because it is under the administration of Japan.

And -- (inaudible) -- in the region comes into conflict or clash over a disputed territory the United States has repeatedly declared -- (inaudible) -- commitment -- (inaudible) -- the disputed matter. Do you think it is -- (inaudible) -- force, coercion or intimidation?

Q: Thank you.

Q: (off mic) about 20 countries in the world -- (inaudible) -- most of them are U.S. alliances -- (inaudible) -- during the Cold War. What -- (inaudible) – ADIZ [air defense identification zone]? What international authorization -- (inaudible) -- ask for permission or what country -- (inaudible) -- United States -- (inaudible) -- before -- (inaudible) -- ADIZ -- (inaudible) -- ADIZ in East China Sea? Or do you think that the U.S. -- (inaudible) -- ADIZ -- (inaudible) -- international norm that every country in the world -- (inaudible) -- would apply to?

Q: Thank you.

SEC. HAGEL: Well, let's see if we can address a couple of your points. General, thank you. One, on ADIZ, when the United States announced ADIZs, as other nations always do, they consult with neighbors. It's not unilateral. It's a relationship that they work through in order to come to an arrangement. Nations do have sovereign rights, according to international law, so that's the big difference versus how China unilaterally announced what they were going to do.

Second point, on your bigger point, I think, I thought I made America's position clear in my remarks about the position we take on disputed territories. In fact, I think I repeated our position a number of times. And I will do so again.

One, these territorial disputes should be resolved through international law and international order. That's what our position is. As to treaty obligations, in responsibilities we have with Japan, with Japan, Philippines, Korea, three of the countries in this area that we have responsibilities to, we honor those. And in the case of the particular islands you mentioned, they have been and are administered by Japan. If there is to be a change in that, that should be done through international law. That should be done through international norms, not through intimidation or coercion. Thank you.

MODERATOR: (off mic) from Australia?

Q: Secretary Hagel, thank you for your very powerful statement of U.S. interests in and commitment to Asia. And let me say that was very welcome to hear that from an Australian perspective. Can I ask you, why did President Obama not refer in greater detail to Asia in his remarks at West Point? And when do you think the president might make the argument for the rebalance in the United States to an American audience?

SEC. HAGEL: Well, let me remind you a little recent history. The president laid out a couple of years ago a very thoughtful, very clear defense strategic guidance that he gave to the Department of Defense and the Department of State and laid out in his speech a centerpiece of his foreign policy.

And central to that defense strategic guidance, which by the way was incorporated clearly -- many, many pages worth -- in 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, which we just finished, it was articulated very clearly by Gen. Dempsey and me and all of our chiefs of staff and all our secretaries, and the legions of people that troop up to Capitol Hill and testify before the House [U.S. House of Representatives] and the Senate on our budgets, clearly articulated there.

The president of the United States was just in this region a few weeks ago and visited four countries. Three of those countries are treaty partners. I've been here now five times in 13 months saying the same thing, articulating the same thing. Secretary Kerry has been here a number of times. Adm. Locklear and his team are all over the Asia Pacific focusing on the rebalance. My litany of moving assets and posture and what we've been doing the last couple of years, what we'll continue to do, comes right to your question.

So I'm not sure what further we can do to indicate that this, as I said in my remarks, is not a promise or it's not a vision, but it's a reality. This rebalance is happening. It's been happening. We'll continue to have it.

So I hope that helps you a little bit. Thank you.

Q: (off mic)

Q: (off mic) Mr. secretary -- (inaudible) -- in the Asia Pacific region -- (inaudible) -- President Obama -- (inaudible) -- however -- (inaudible) -- continue to engage in the region and -- (inaudible) -- and -- (inaudible) -- geopolitical landscape here -- (inaudible) -- do you think -- (inaudible) -- not only -- (inaudible) -- but also in the military -- (inaudible) -- thank you very much.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. The question was -- (inaudible) – how Japan can do more in partnership with the United States could I ask one more question, and then Secretary Hagel can answer two -- answer the two and close. The final question from Lt. Gen. Singh of India.

Q: (off mic) India -- (inaudible) -- it's good to have the defense minister of Vietnam -- (inaudible) -- good to have -- (inaudible) – I must commend you for a real frank and straightforward talk, and I welcome your remarks about your partnership with India, and I’m sure we’ll step forward and step on the gas, too -- (inaudible) -- and we can keep talking -- (inaudible) -- nothing will change. So my question is, sir, how do you avoid the -- (inaudible) – change status quo back -- (inaudible) – architecture existed today, and if not, what should we do? Thank you, secretary.

Q: I think -- (inaudible) -- in your view -- (inaudible) – on the ground, the sea and the air to change the status quo, how -- (inaudible) -- can it be reversed? And the question from Japan was, how, from the United States' perspective, should Japan reinforce role in the U.S.-Japanese partnership, Secretary Hagel?

SEC. HAGEL: Thank you. And to each of you, thank you for your questions. Let me address the question from my friend from India first.

Well, I think, generally, like any of us, like history is clear, regardless of our business or our individual responsibilities, a clear honest assessment of realities that confront us, challenge us, threats, what's ahead, what's not behind -- (inaudible) -- how, then, do you take that assessment and respond?

Threats and challenges are not new for any country or anyone. They have been around since we probably started walking on two legs. And they will be with us for a long time. It's how we respond to them. And how do we get out ahead of them? How do we use our vision and our relationships and our abilities to respond in smart ways, in wise ways? The world is shifting. It is -- President Obama talked about this, one of his main themes in his speech at West Point. What's going on in the world today in -- (inaudible) -- is unprecedented. The world has never seen anything like what we see going on today, and it continues.

So I hope I'm not too far afield from answering your question, because it's a constant effort, and the collaboration, the value added that we bring to each other in collective security arrangements and agreements, focusing on common interests, common challenges, common threats -- (inaudible) -- talked about this morning, certainly in this part of the world, any part of the world, whether it's an environmental disaster threat or it's a cyber threat, a nuclear threat, terrorist threat. Those are not indigenous to any one country. This is a world now with no boundaries, no boundaries. Great opportunities, but great threats. So that's the way we come at it. And working together is a far smarter way to do this for all the obvious reasons.

As to my friend from Japan's question, what president or Prime Minister Abe talked about last night in his speech, in his outlining of his efforts in Japan to widen the self-defense architecture that was put into place as a result of the constitution that was written in Japan after World War II, it comes right to both -- both questions, many of the questions that we've had here this morning and you'll be talking about all day. Is it relevant, is it realistic for the threats of today and what's coming for Japan?

That's leadership. Leaders must take on and challenge the status quo. And for Prime Minister Abe and his government and the people of Japan to question whether the structure now, the architecture now that Japan has, is that the right structure? Is it relevant to take on these new great threats and challenges that they are facing today and will continue to face?

I think he's on the right track. Our country strongly supports what the people of Japan are doing today to review that. So I would answer both questions generally like that, because I think it does -- my reflections and response do come back, it seems to me, and represent the centerpiece of everything we're doing here, what ASEAN represents, what partnerships, friendships, treaty relationships represents, and they're not new, but they're common interests, starting with the sovereign interests of each nation, and the one -- the one most significant responsibility of any government, of any leader, of any nation is the safety and the security of their country. Thank you.

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