National Security Advisor Susan Rice discussed the future of the Asia-Pacific and announced in Gaston Hall on Wednesday that President Barack Obama would visit the region in April.
Obama’s scheduled trip in October was canceled due to the government shutdown.
“Rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific remains a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. No matter how many hot spots emerge elsewhere, we will continue to deepen our enduring commitment to this critical region,” Rice said. “Our friends in Asia deserve and will continue to get our highest level of attention.”
Rice laid out the Obama administration’s plan for the next three years.
“Ultimately, America’s purpose is to establish a more stable security environment in Asia, an open and transparent economic environment and a liberal political environment that will respect the universal rights and freedoms of all,” she said.
Rice said Obama would focus on four areas to build growth in Asia: enhancing security, expanding prosperity, fostering democratic values and advancing human dignity.
“Our military presence in the region is vital,” Rice said. “Not only to deter threats and defend allies, but also to provide speedy humanitarian assistance and unmatched disaster response.”
Rice specifically addressed China in terms of security and asserted that the United States remains committed to improving its military relationship with the nation.
“When it comes to China, we seek to operationalize a new model of major power relations,” she said. “That means managing inevitable competition while forging deeper cooperation on issues where our interests converge in Asia and beyond.”
Rice, who previously served as ambassador to the United Nations, related her experience on the UN Security Council to future work with China.
“I sat on the Security Council of the United Nations with China for over 4 and a half years working on many of these issues,” she said. “I know all too well that we have some fundamental differences that cannot be minimized. But I also know that our interests on many of the major challenges of our time can and should be more closely aligned.”
Specifically, Rice said the United States and China should work together to rollback the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction programs.
“We are prepared for negotiations provided they are authentic and credible, get at the entirety of North Korea’s nuclear program and result in concrete and irreversible steps toward denuclearization,” she said.
Rice also discussed the economic outlook for the region in the years ahead, citing that about a quarter of U.S. exports go to Asia.
“By the end of 2016, we aim to transform our economic relations with the region, through dramatically increased U.S. exports, the implementation of the most ambitious American free trade agreement in decades and closer cooperation with China, India and other emerging economies in pursuit of sustained global growth,” Rice said. “As an Asian-Pacific nation, the United States is working to shape a more dynamic future for entire region by promoting U.S. business and forging new ties for commerce.”
The most crucial economic policy, according to Rice, is the Trans-Pacific Partnership economic agreement.
“The rules we establish though this agreement will set standard for future trade agreements,” Rice said, citing workers rights, environmental protections and intellectual property, among others.
Rice said that the United States needs to improve its economic relationship with China, saying a poor relationship is detrimental to each nation.
“If meaningful action is not taken now, this behavior will undermine the economic relationship that benefits both our nations,” she said.
As for women in politics, Rice said decreasing the gender gap remains key to fostering economic growth.
“This single change has the potential to do the most good for the greatest number of people,” she said. “Those two factors are closely correlated – simply put, the smaller the gender gap, the stronger the economic growth.”
Rice concluded by addressing the United States’ response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
“We are working around the clock to help Filipino people begin rebuilding the country. Recovery will be a long process, but the U.S. will stand beside the Philippines every step of the way,” she said.
Audience members were impressed and optimistic about what Rice said for the Asian region moving forward.
“I was especially interested with how Rice addressed increasing the participation of women in the workforce in Asia,” Enushe Khan (MSB ’17) said. “Especially after the Hilary Clinton talk last week, I found the emphasis on the advancement of women in Asia to be very interesting.” 

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