The Heritage Foundation

News Releases on Asia

February 11, 1999

February 11, 1999 | News Releases on Asia

U.S. Must Defend Its Interests in Asia, Think Tank President Says

WASHINGTON, FEB. 11, 1999-With China deploying more than 100 additional ballistic missiles in provinces facing Taiwan, the need for the United States to build a missile defense system that shields our allies and troops in Asia is more urgent than ever, according to Edwin Feulner, president of The Heritage Foundation.

Growing threats against peace and stability in Asia dictate a strong American response, Feulner said in testimony delivered yesterday before a congressional subcommittee on Asian and Pacific affairs. The United States must reassert its long-standing leadership in the region and follow a consistent strategy that promotes democracy, freedom and American security.

Several other factors greatly enhance U.S. interest in Asian affairs, he said. China's emergence as a world power, the dependence of millions of American jobs on U.S. exports to Asia, and the faltering Japanese economy all call for a rethinking of U.S. Asia policy.

One of the primary challenges facing the Clinton administration is restoring American credibility in Asia, Feulner said. "All too often, the administration has treated Asia haphazardly, often reversing policy without sufficient explanation, confusing friend and foe alike," he said. The United States must show by its actions-not merely through "lofty rhetoric and frequent meetings"-that it intends to protect American interests in Asia.

A key component of any successful Asia policy is the promotion of economic freedom and free trade, Feulner said. Recent history makes it clear that the Asian countries that have flourished economically are the ones that undertook serious efforts to open their markets, reduce government interference, and eradicate widespread corruption.

"Asia's economic security assumes a continued peace, which in turn is ensured by America's continued military presence and strategic leadership," he said. A lack of reliable U.S. leadership has led to burgeoning missile threats, with North Korea the latest in a series of countries developing ballistic missile defense systems that can challenge neighboring countries-and eventually the United States itself.

"Americans have learned that the fate of Asia is also our fate," said Feulner. "Our freedom and prosperity depend on the freedom and prosperity of Asians."

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