Negroponte: Asia Should Strengthen Leadership Role

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 11) – Today's stable and prosperous Asia can – and should – take a stronger global leadership role in confronting major international challenges such as global warming, terrorism and the spread of dangerous weapons, a top State Department official told a gathering of distinguished Asia-focused Americans here Friday.

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who has decades of experience in Asia, said there are now "great expectations" that Asian nations will "expand their global role as responsible stewards of the very international order that made possible their success."

He spoke at the fifth annual Washington conference of the East-West Center-sponsored U.S. Asia Pacific Council.

"As we strive to solve major issues confronting the international community – from climate change to preventing the spread of dangerous weapons – the United States looks increasingly to our partners in Asia not only to help, but to lead," Negroponte told the conference.

(Note: the full text of Negroponte's speech can be found at

The United States will continue to play a major role in dealing with international challenges, Negroponte insisted. But Asian nations, from China to Indonesia, are now in a position to carry a larger share of the burden.

"With global influence and power comes responsibility. Now is the time, as beneficiaries of the global trading system, for Asian powers to take the lead in trade liberalization under the World Trade Organization's Doha Round," he said. "The world needs and expects today's global winners to be tomorrow's pacesetters, not to lag behind the pack."

"Addressing climate change in the coming decade will also require inclusion of the developing world – most notably China as well as India," he added.

Since World War II, Negroponte said, the United States has actively worked to improve the security and economic stability of the region. This has come through a number of security alliances with major Asian powers, as well as laying the "building blocks" of  the global economic and trade system "that Asian economies from Singapore to Taiwan have used to fuel their growth," he said.

But the days of unilateral action or even bilateral arrangements with individual countries are coming to an end, he suggested.

"While institutions established after World War II have served the U.S., Asia and the international community in many respects, we must work to ensure that growing Asian nations are integrated into this framework," he said.

That also means fuller participation and leadership by Asian countries in major international institutions, he said.

For example, he said, China should be a member of the International Energy Agency, and Japan deserves a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

And what will be the role of the United States as Asian nations step up more fully to a leadership role? Negroponte cited three major tasks for the United States over the coming decade:

-- Further improving regional cooperation to complement existing bilateral security alliances;

-- Promoting continued prosperity, and

--Accommodating rising Asian powers into the international system while also challenging them to assume global leadership on major international issues.

"For more than 60 years, the United States has worked with friends and allies in Asia to promote free markets and the free exchanges of ideas," Negroponte said.

"Unlike the beginning of the Cold War, when strongman rule was a feature of the region, the ballot box has gradually transformed the face of Asia. America now has democratic partners across the region, committed to political liberty, human rights, and rule of law," he said.

In short, he said, Asia's newly prosperous, stable and democratic nations are in a position to become leaders rather than followers on the global stage.


The EAST-WEST CENTER is an education and research organization established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific, and the United States. The Center contributes to a peaceful, prosperous and just Asia Pacific community by serving as a vigorous hub for cooperative research, education and dialogue on critical issues of common concern to the Asia Pacific region and the United States. Funding for the Center comes from the U.S. government, with additional support provided by private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations and the governments of the region.

The East-West Wire is a news, commentary, and analysis service provided by the East-West Center in Honolulu. Any part or all of the Wire content may be used by media with attribution to the East-West Center or the person quoted. To receive the East-West Center Wire, please contact Derek Ferrar, Media Relations Specialist at (808) 944-7204 or send an email to

Click here for daily news on the Pacific Islands.

Click here for links to all East-West Center media programs, fellowships and services.


This is an East-West Wire, copyright East-West Center