The Second Annual B.C. Lee Lecture, given March 26, 1996
There are many great self-declared institutions in Washington.
Some profess to have decided impacts on America's foreign policy.
Then there are others truly making significant contributions; these
are substantially fewer. Ed
Feulner and Richard Allen are
among the most significant players behind these few institutions --
but more about them in a moment.
The Heritage Foundation was in its infancy in the early 1970s
during my first years in the Senate. But it had by then already
become "self-evident," as one of our greatest documents puts it,
that Heritage was moving rapidly in its remarkable leadership with
its advocacy of, and its support for, great principles that deserve
History will appropriately record the enormously important role
that Ed Feulner has played in restoring and preserving the meaning
and the miracle of America. And Richard V. Allen, who is so highly
respected in this city and far beyond, has made the difference on
countless occasions and in countless matters when America's future
was hanging in the balance. Richard Allen and Ed Feulner together
founded the Asian Studies Center in 1983, and Mr. Allen has served
as its chairman ever since.
I mention all of this in paying my respects to these two
patriots, and to thank them, and you, for the honor of having been
chosen to offer my remarks at this second annual B.C. Lee lecture
for the Heritage Foundation. And let me also take just a moment to
recognize in this distinguished company my good friend and
colleague, Representative Benjamin Gilman, the Chairman of the
House International Relations Committee.
The year 1983 didn't appear to have the rosy glow foretelling
the dawn of the Pacific Century. Leonid Brezhnev had just died, the
Soviet Union was in turmoil, and the United States was fighting the
final battles of the Cold War. The Heritage Foundation was
preoccupied with those and other pressing issues of the day, but it
was also looking forward.
In 1983, as I have indicated, Heritage founded its Asian Studies
Center, a reflection of its understanding of the vital role Asia
was to play in the post-Cold War future. That forward-looking
vision is the reason Heritage is today one of America's preeminent
think tanks, a policy center on which I and many other Members of
In identifying the 21st century as the Pacific Century, I am
merely stating the obvious: During the past decade, the world's
center of gravity has shifted. And it will continue to move
eastward away from Europe, toward Asia, because as the nations of
Eastern Europe and the states of the former Soviet Union were
struggling to break free of communism, Pacific Rim nations were
busily taking care of business at home.
Their hard work has paid off. The Asia-Pacific region currently
accounts for more than 40 percent of the world's trade and
U.S.-Pacific Rim trade has out paced trade across the Atlantic.
Thankfully for the United States -- though the political and
economic center of gravity may have shifted West to East, Europe to
Asia -- we remain uniquely positioned, not only geographically, but
strategically, politically, and economically at the center. The
United States thus remains the world's anchor.
And that is where we must stay.
The fall of the Berlin Wall forced the United States to
reexamine its role in the world. There were some who believed that
the end of the Cold War was the time to turn inward, to spend a
little time with our own problems. Others argued that the U.S. is
the only country in the world with the moral, economic, and
strategic strength to bring the rest of the world along.
I am convinced that we cannot be the best nation in the world
unless we are willing to lead the world. We cannot lead by being
the world's policeman, nor the world's babysitter, but by being
what we have been for most of the 20th century -- the
standard-bearer of moral, political, and military might and right,
an example towards which all others aspire.
In Congress, U.S. alliances in the Pacific enjoy bipartisan
support. Some of us focus on political alliances, others on
economic, others on strategic, and still others on moral alliances.
But all of us recognize that those alliances need strengthening.
The question is how to prioritize our objectives.
But, first, what are our priorities? Clearly, one reason the
United States has seemed to be flailing around in the world,
rushing from disaster to disaster, is because the Clinton
Administration has failed to set priorities. Everything, from
Burundi to Bosnia, is equally important -- and, therefore, equally
unimportant. Our old allies in Europe are watching us and wondering
with amazement where the United States is headed. And you can bet
that our new allies in Asia are scratching their heads, too.
In just a few short years, the Clinton Administration has
managed to warp U.S.-Asia policy so badly that, at any one time,
the United States is at odds with China, Japan, and the Korean
peninsula. Right now, many Asian nations fear that we are
propelling ourselves down the road to irrelevance. And we're not
just strolling either.
In China, the United States has neither a strategy, nor resolve,
for dealing with areas of key interests to the United States On the
Korean peninsula, this Administration has given lip service to our
allies in South Korea while dealing directly with the North Koreans
on issues ranging from their nuclear program to the delivery of
humanitarian food aid. Food aid, for heaven's sakes, that North
Korea demanded, while South Korea -- our friend and ally -- was
insisting the North did not need.
If this State Department, this National Security Council, and
this White House, are determined to continue their experiments in
foreign policy, let us pray that they will not make the devastating
mistake of delegating decision-making to our enemies of forty
years, the North Koreans.
The United States simply cannot afford to abdicate its role in
the dominant region of the 21st century. We must have priorities,
and we must stand up for them. And, yes, if and when necessary,
fight for them.
Setting our priorities is no easy business. Asia presents
daunting challenges. Consider the following:
Communist China considers itself prepared to step into the role
of a dominant world power, yet demonstrates time and again that it
has neither the maturity nor the decency to handle the role;
North Korea maintains its million-man army and its militant,
anti-Western propaganda machine while the United States props up
North Korea's failing economy through a faulty agreement;
Meanwhile Taiwan's dedication to democracy and capitalism
deserves our continued support -- politically and militarily --
even in the face of severe opposition from Mainland China;
The Southeast Asians, proud of their continued economic
miracles, are nervous about the Chinese military modernization and
territorial claims in the South China Sea and are therefore pushing
the ASEAN alliance into a strategic alliance, as well as an
economic one; and
India and Pakistan, like two caged tigers, compete for nuclear
weaponry and missile technology, all the while scratching at their
wounds in Kashmir.
But China is the greatest challenge. China is still trying to
figure out how to play its own role on the world stage. In the
meantime, the United States cannot be hamstrung by China's
confusion. The United States must not sit still in the thrall of an
awakening dragon. We must define U.S. interests in Asia now, as the
dragon awakes, and hope that the dragon will awaken on the right
side of the bed.
Just three days ago, in Taiwan, the world watched as the free
Taiwanese people cast their ballots in the first democratic
presidential election ever in a Chinese-speaking country. President
Lee Teng-hui scored a decisive victory in a hotly contested
election. All of us, of course, congratulate President Lee and
applaud his vision for Taiwan.
Think about it for a moment: In 1979, when the Carter
Administration callously cut formal ties with our long-time ally,
Taiwan, it was the Congress of the United States that compelled Mr.
Carter to sign the Taiwan Relations Act -- the only law of the
United States governing our relations with Taiwan. In passing the
Taiwan Relations Act, Congress expressed its bipartisan support for
The election of President Ronald Reagan guaranteed that the
Taiwan Relations Act would be properly enforced to provide Taiwan
with the means to defend itself against any external threat. At
that time, most countries in the world ignored Taiwan. And, like
some in the United States, these same people assumed it was only a
matter of time before the Communists on the mainland consumed tiny
Taiwan. That hasn't happened, and it will not happen as long as I
am in the U.S. Senate.
During the 1980s, the Reagan and Bush Administrations followed a
consistent, principled policy toward Taiwan. It was not the least
bit ambiguous. During this period, the people of Taiwan persisted.
They accelerated the rate of growth in their free market economy,
attracted high technology manufacturers, raised their own living
standards, and encouraged the establishment of democracy. Even the
most vigorous supporters of the Taiwanese -- myself included --
would never have thought that kind of progress possible in such a
short period, especially given the fact that the Communists in Red
China fought them the whole way.
So where does Taiwan go from here? Will the Communists continue
to threaten and bluster, wielding their own military machine time
and again against Taiwan? Not if the United States plays the role
First of all, Taiwan deserves to participate in international
organizations. Taiwan trades with the world, freely and fairly.
Taiwan has a thriving, free market economy and a sound currency.
Taiwan meets the fundamental criteria for membership in the World
Trade Organization and should be admitted now, regardless of
Mainland China's admission timetable.
Second, the United States must continue a vigorous and faithful
implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act and all of its
provisions. The United States has promised, and is obligated by
law, to provide Taiwan with enough military equipment to defend
itself against any external threat. The recent military exercises
in the Taiwan Strait orchestrated by the Chinese Communists prove
this to be more important than ever. We can and should -- we must
-- remove any supposed barriers to providing Taiwan with
state-of-the-art defensive systems and equipment. Taiwan threatens
no one; the same cannot be said of Mainland China.
Third, we must actively engage other countries in the region to
encourage and assist Taiwan's peaceful democratic growth. It will
be Taiwan's economic growth upon which other economies in the
region will come to rely. It is those countries that should be
encouraged to support Taiwan on the political front as well.
Fourth, to ensure that we do not contradict our goal of
encouraging Taiwan's economic growth in conditions of democracy,
the United States must be exceptionally cautious concerning the
technologies we sell to Communist China. The United States does not
serve its own long-term interests well by augmenting Communist
China's military capability.
As for Mainland China, it has become an appalling habit in
various U.S. administrations to speak to China as if to a child. We
outline our expectations, and when they are not met -- and they are
never met -- we make excuses. But the Chinese are not children, and
we are not their parents. Respect for human life, willingness to
obey international agreements -- these are U.S. priorities, not
Refusing to punish China when China does not live up to its
commitments in the world only further encourages China's
intransigence. Too often we don't follow through on sanctions
because we worry that we will lose a share of the elusive Chinese
market. But we are forgetting at least two things when we do
First, the Chinese need us as much as, if not more than, we need
them. Chinese growth and continued prosperity are dependent on a
continued stream of foreign investment and trade.
Second, we forget the beloved Asian tradition of bargaining. If
we explain our bottom line and then don't follow through to defend
it, they'll push us to an even lower bottom line the next time
Twice recently, the United States has backed away from
sanctioning China for its bad behavior. The United States, under
the steady direction of Mickey Kantor, vowed to sanction China if
it did not implement the agreement that China signed more than a
year ago regarding intellectual property rights protection.
Shockingly to nobody, except perhaps Mr. Kantor, the Chinese didn't
live up to the terms of the agreement. But, you see, the Chinese
know us too well. They dangled a $4 billion bid for Boeing planes
in return for our not imposing the sanctions on intellectual
More serious still than thieving brand-name sneakers are China's
nefarious proliferation activities. In the face of China's transfer
of strategically crucial missiles to one of the world's most
destabilizing, terrorist nations, Iran, the Clinton Administration
has sat on its hands. The Chinese play us well: They sign an
agreement, violate it, and in return are awarded lucrative
contracts with U.S. firms in which the U.S. firm is required to
transfer important proprietary technology. What a deal.
U.S. laws regarding sanctions for international trafficking in
missiles and in weapons of mass destruction are clear. We disregard
them at our own choosing -- and at our own peril.
The size of the Chinese market has blinded far too many to the
Chinese threat. Military cadres in the Chinese leadership maintain
a dominant role in the policymaking process. It is the generals,
and not the apparatchiks, who enjoy a stranglehold over policy. It
is they who have pushed China's drive to modernize its armed forces
from a defensive, brown-water type to a blue-water force capable of
forward deployment throughout Asia.
By the end of the next decade, China will be capable of locking
up the world's most strategic waterways. By reasserting its claims
to atolls in the South China Sea and by selling billions of dollars
in military hardware to the regime in Burma, while building
shipping ports off the Burmese coast in the Indian Ocean, the
Chinese are in a position to cut off the international right of
free passage in those waters. One call from Beijing could very well
cut off over 50 percent of the world's trade.
The Japanese, the Koreans, the Southeast Asians, and the South
Asians all see the trend and, in response, are begging the United
States to maintain the 7th Fleet in the region. U.S. military
presence in the region is vital. If we're willing to use U.S. armed
forces to build toilets and sewers for Haitians, there is no
question we should bolster U.S. forces to defend and maintain right
of passage through these crucial international maritime routes. We
not only would insure our own economic well-being, but also would
maintain stability in markets throughout the world.
Clearly, the United States cannot shoulder the financial and
logistical burden of defending Asia's waterways alone. In return
for our services, the countries of the region are going to have to
offer far more access and hospitality to our military.We will have
to depend on our allies far more than we do now. Which brings me to
the crucial role of the U.S.-Japan military alliance.
The United States and Japan, like it or not, share common goals
and objectives for the Asia-Pacific. Our economies will come to
depend upon the enormous economic growth in Asia -- a peaceful
Asia, that is. The economic forces of an increasingly
interdependent global economy and the strategic rise of China are
hurtling the United States and Japan down the same path.
If the United States is to attain its security objectives in
Asia, the U.S.-Japan alliance must remain strong. However, our
alliance with Japan has come under sharp scrutiny in recent months,
and I am persuaded that the relationship must be reexamined -- not
to determine whether it should continue, but how best it should
However, we must not fool ourselves. If the United States were
to leave the Japanese to fend for themselves, I am convinced that
Japan would go nuclear within ten years. It is entirely possible
that within the course of the next century, the world may very well
witness the development of a nuclear-armed Japan, a nuclear-armed
and reunified Korean peninsula, a China with modern,
forward-deployed armed forces, a still-divided and nuclear-armed
South Asia and an arms race on a scale never seen before in
Southeast Asia. That scenario is in nobody's best interest.
Japan must, however, do more. Japan must take responsibility in
the world, not as a commercial buccaneer, but as a mature,
responsible nation. We should be encouraging the Japanese to take a
leadership role commensurate with Japan's economic standing. That
means far more, for example, than affording Japan a seat on the
U.N. Security Council to demonstrate its position in the world.
It means that Japan will have to start making hard choices --
choices that may mean forgoing a market opportunity in a country in
return for improvement in the standard of living for a nation's
people. As yet, they have shied away from putting themselves on the
line on some of the toughest policy issues like human rights and
proliferation. It means that Japan maintains a strong enough
economy that it should begin to use its influence not just toopen
markets, but to leverage its power to affect change for the better
in other countries.
As Japan takes more responsibilities onto itself, I hope our
trading relationship can flourish fairly. And on that note, I must
tip my hat to Mickey Kantor. He has shown real gumption in pushing
Japan with the threat of sanctions and retaliation in U.S. markets,
all of which goes to show that not every fight needs to end in a
war if the United States is willing to stand up to defend its
The South Koreans should be mindful in this regard, as well. A
solid friendship underlies the U.S.-South Korean relationship. But
if South Korea is to play a more significant role on the world
stage, it, too, must become more considerate of, and receptive to,
American goods and services. While the process of liberalization is
underway, it should be accelerated.
The economic front is not the only front on which Asia will
challenge U.S. policymakers. All sorts of strategic alignments and
realignments are occurring throughout Asia. The United States has
to keep abreast of these changes.
One of the best prospects for a flashpoint in the region is the
Korean peninsula. Along with 650,000 South Korean troops, 37,000
Americans face a million-man North Korean army poised along the
border of North and South Korea, a little more than a marathon
distance from Seoul. The results of the much-vaunted U.S.-North
Korea Agreed Framework on the nuclear issue have yet to be seen,
but one thing is clear: The Clinton Administration handled the
North Korean regime with the same kid gloves it has heretofore used
to handle all dictators from Castro to Aristide.
The United States has now agreed to supply hundreds of millions
of dollars of oil to North Korea, enough oil to prop up the failing
North Korean economy and thereby ensure that the Stalinist regime
stays in power. That makes no sense. North Korea signed the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty. It violated it. It should not get paid for
Saddest, perhaps, is that the world has learned only one
valuable lesson from the vile activities of the North Koreans. The
world has sadly learned that the United States can be blackmailed.
When the going got tough, the United States has been willing to
offer up the checkbooks of the American taxpayer.
Our great bargain with North Korea gives the North modern
nuclear reactor technology that still allows them to produce
plutonium for a nuclear weapon. The saving grace for the Clinton
Administration? The North Koreans won't be able to produce as much
plutonium for nuclear weapons. And we are supposed to be relieved?
Give me a break.
Indeed, the Agreed Framework is so discredited with our allies
that the tripartite international organization established to
implement it can't beg or borrow enough to carry out its mandate.
And why won't our allies ante up? Because they're not sanguine
about the deal that was struck.
One of the central tenets of our compact with Pyongyang was that
the North would begin a substantive dialogue with our allies, the
South Koreans. It has not happened. The Administration has tried to
convince the world that by offering the carrot of a nuclear reactor
to the North, the rest of the world would benefit by having coaxed
the North to talk with the South. It hasn't happened yet, and there
doesn't seem to be any real movement in that direction. The real
path to peace on the Korean peninsula runs directly from Seoul to
Pyongyang -- not from Pyongyang to Washington. Dialogue between
North and South Korea is one of the only chances the world has of
seeing the Korean peninsula reunified on a peaceful, democratic,
and economically solvent basis. That chance is disappearing as I
And now, if I may, let me turn to one of my old hobbyhorses,
Russia. I am unaccustomed to regarding Russia as an Asian power,
but the time has come to recognize that fully half of Russia's
territory lies in Asia.
For nearly a thousand years, Russia has been torn by competing
European and Asian influences. I believe they prefer to consider
themselves Europeans.But frankly, I don't particularly care how
Russia sees itself -- just as long as it does so within its own
borders. Which is, historically, the biggest problem with Russia:
It finds its borders so confining....
Every so often, our friends in Moscow decide that they have
neglected their Asian side. Unfortunately, their interest has
tended to manifest itself in the shape of wars of expansion. At the
beginning of this century, the Russian and Japanese Empires
collided in a great naval battle at Port Arthur. In World War II,
the Soviet Union seized a group of islands from Japan that are
today held by Russia -- an act which continues to poison relations
between the two countries. Under the leadership of Stalin and Mao,
the Soviet Union and China experienced decades of friction,
including periodic border clashes.
The challenge for Russia today is to overcome the legacy of
military competition in the East and to build cooperative relations
with its Asian neighbors. The question for us, however, is to what
extent Russia chooses this course as an alternative to closer
relations with the West.
Russia has indicated its interest in engaging Asia more closely
-- witness President Yeltsin's widely touted trip to Beijing
scheduled for early April. It is much repeated in Moscow that the
"West" has not proven to be a gracious partner for Russia, and
Russia therefore should look east. I will not dwell on the merit of
Russia's criticism of the "West"; however, it is important that we
all better understand what Russia seeks in engaging the East.
Closer ties between Russia and China are not automatically bad
for U.S. interests. Those two nations share one of the longest land
borders in the world. They certainly must, at a minimum, learn to
coexist. However, if Russia seeks a closer relationship with the
current regime in China as an alternative to the West, then Russia
would defy its own interests.
Some in Russia today advocate following the "Chinese model" of
market economics without political freedom. This is pure folly. I
see no chance that the people of Russia would allow themselves to
be led by a government such as China's, which so callously
disregards the rights of its own citizens. If Russia seeks partners
in Asia, it should instead look to those nations which have found
the path to economic success and political freedom. That's the best
mix of East and West.
For real cooperation between Russia and China to succeed, it
must be based on deeper interests than a momentary desire to unite
against the West. I trust that responsible leaders in Russia know
this to be true. I would not disregard the potential for the worst
elements in the Russian and Chinese governments to try their very
best to build such a relationship, but I doubt that they will
succeed where Stalin and Mao failed.
Frankly, I have less fear of a Sino-Russian partnership than I
do of Russia's and China's meddling in Asia. Which brings me to a
trouble spot that doesn't usually come up in discussions of the
so-called Pacific Century -- that is, South Asia.
Throughout the Cold War, India's own insularity allowed the
United States the luxury of virtually ignoring the world's second
largest nation. We no longer have that luxury for two reasons --
neither of them surprising to those of us who spend our time
wrestling with the post-Cold War world.
In the past decade, India has become an economic power with
which we all must reckon. Slowly, in its typical one step forward,
ten steps backwards fashion, India is becoming an important player
in the world economy. American companies are investing millions in
India, and eyeing that nation's 200-plus-million middle class
Unfortunately, as India becomes part of the world of
fair-trading nations, India is also fighting to become a nuclear
power. India exploded a nuclear device in 1974 and, until just a
month or two ago, was on the verge of testing another. In addition,
India has developed ballistic missiles and is moving quickly to
India's leaders would have us believe that their drive for
nuclear weapons and long-range missiles has to do with the odious
Chinese threat to India's north, which is only partly true.
Certainly, China has been no friend to India, and a good -- perhaps
too good -- friend to Pakistan. But India's real problem is to its
west, in Kashmir and in Pakistan. The vast majority of India's
troops are concentrated on its Pakistani border and in Kashmir, and
not on the Indo-Chinese border.
Pakistan, long a good and a true ally of the United States, is
persuaded that India is bent on Pakistan's destruction. It's remedy
has been to turn to the Safeway of proliferating nations -- China.
Nuclear technology, missiles, arms of every kind are to be had for
the asking over in Beijing. China, uniquely positioned to moderate
the policies of its neighbors in South Asia, has instead used
tensions in that region to profit on the deadly proliferation
So how, ideally, does the United States respond? Ideally, we
look to one of the sources of the problem: Kashmir. We work with a
portion of the vigor we have dedicated to Middle East peacemaking
to forcefully persuade India and Pakistan to move to a settlement.
Ideally, we slam China for fueling the South Asia arms race and
demonstrate our own seriousness in fighting proliferation.
But then there is the real world. The Clinton Administration
makes excuses for China. Mind bogglingly, we are told -- again --
that China did not fully comprehend its commitments under the
Nonproliferation Treaty and, therefore, probably was not in the
"wrong" in transferring missile technology to Pakistan. Pakistan is
threatened with sanctions for buying missiles and nuclear
technology, and rightly so. But when Prime Minister Bhutto begs for
help in dealing with India, the Clinton Administration is not
India, happy to absorb $100-plus-million in U.S. foreign aid
every year, laughs in our faces when we demand that they work with
us against proliferation. And at any hint that the United States
might get serious, legions of companies are brought in to describe
to us the importance of continuing to do business with India. After
all, the Indians may not like China, but they sure have learned a
thing or two from Beijing about how to manipulate Washington,
Well, now, I have spent much of my time talking about the
800-pound gorillas of Asia. Now let's talk a bit about the
The economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) are booming. Over the past five years, they have averaged 7
percent growth, a trend that promises to continue for at least the
next few decades. The ASEAN story is a genuine success story.
Consider that a group of nations with disparate histories,
languages, and economies joined together to ensure stability in the
region. They recognized early on that they could provide
commensurate counterweight to the economic and strategic forces of
China, Japan, and the Korean peninsula only if they were
Developing strong ties with each of the members of ASEAN will be
another linchpin in the U.S. approach to Asia. We must work -- and
work harder -- with our close friends in ASEAN to encourage them to
bring pressure for reform to bear on countries like Vietnam, Laos,
and Burma -- - countries where repressive governments have still
not adopted the rule of law or accepted the international norms for
the treatment of human rights.
For Burma and Laos, the lure of ASEAN membership is a
significant enough draw to encourage these countries actually to
consider liberalization. The question will be whether the current
ASEAN countries make that issue a priority. Without encouragement
and even pressure from the United States, they will not do so. That
would be a serious mistake -- though only one more in a series of
mistakes in Asia for this administration. The United States cannot
afford to let this ball drop.
Somehow the Clinton Administration approach to U.S.-Asia policy
reminds me of Alice in Wonderland -- if you don't know where you're
going, any road will get you there. The United States today is in
the position, economically and militarily, to be the dominant
friendly power in the Asia-Pacific. We can't afford to squander
that position in the run-up to the Pacific Century.
There's no crystal ball telling us how the world will unfold,
but I am confident of Asia's central part in that world. There is a
famous Chinese proverb that says something along the lines of: "If
the water is murky, just wait and let it settle. Then it will all
be clear to you." The future of the region and the U.S. position
there is murky now, but we cannot sit and wait for the waters to
clear before we define our policies.
U.S. policy must directly address U.S. interests in Asia. There
are at least five points for us to stress:
(1) Maintain open and peaceful shipping waters for trade;
(2) Maintain a strategic balance between China, Japan, the
Korean peninsula, and Southeast Asia, all the while preventing a
cataclysmic arms race;
(3) Push for more open, less regulated markets for U.S. goods
(4) Show the nations in the region that we are serious about
their adherence to bilateral and multilateral agreements by
punishing those who transgress; and
(5) Strengthen the friendships we maintain with our true allies
in the region -- Taiwan and South Korea, to name just two -- rather
than coddle dictators because we fear that we might lose market
You have been patient with me, and I thank you most sincerely
for the opportunity to share some views with you this evening. I am
genuinely honored to be in the company of the high caliber of Asia
and foreign policy specialists in this room tonight, and I hope I
will have the benefit of your views later in the evening.