SYDNEY (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday called on China to allow more freedoms ahead of the 2008 Olympics, and urged Asia-Pacific countries to help secure global deals on trade and climate change.
Following are excerpts of Bush’s speech to the APEC business summit at Sydney’s Opera House.
Yesterday, I visited the Australian National Maritime Museum, which houses the bell from a great American Naval vessel, the USS Canberra. This is the only American ship ever commissioned in tribute to an ally’s warship lost in battle...
The bell is a powerful symbol of the enduring ties that bind our two nations. And I was proud to present it to Prime Minister Howard when he came to Washington to mark the 50th anniversary of the ANZUS Treaty. The ceremony took place on September the 10th, 2001.
As we stood together that morning, the Prime Minister and I could never have imagined that in less than 24 hours, America would come under attack, the ANZUS Treaty would soon be invoked for the first time, and in a matter of weeks, Australian and American troops would once again be fighting side-by-side in a global war to defend our freedom and way of life.
We seek an Asia Pacific region that is growing in freedom, prosperity, and peace. And we are determined to help this region become a place of hope and opportunity where every man, woman, and child has a chance to achieve their God-given potential, and build a better life. America’s commitment to the Asia Pacific region was forged in war and sealed in peace.
... Today, our alliances with Australia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines and our defense relationships with Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, and others in the region form the bedrock of America’s engagement in the Asia Pacific.
America is committed to the security of the Asia Pacific region, and that commitment is unshakable. The expansion of freedom and democracy in the Asia Pacific region is one of the great stories of our time ...
Today, APEC economies account for nearly half of all international trade. The total trade in goods by APEC countries has grown by 300 percent since 1990. Trade in services has grown by 200 percent over that same period, and the flow of foreign investment into this region has grown by 400 percent.
... We believe that the best way to open markets is through the Doha round of trade negotiations. Doha represents a once-in-a-generation chance to open markets and help millions rise from poverty.
The United States is committed to seizing this opportunity and we need partners in this region to help lead the effort. No single country can make Doha a success, but it is possible for a handful of countries that are unwilling to make the necessary contributions to bring Doha to a halt
... As negotiations resume in Geneva, leaders in every country have to make tough decisions to reduce barriers to trade and we must focus on what we have to gain, not what we could to lose. The United States has both the will and the flexibility to help conclude a successful Doha Round, and we urge our APEC partners to join us in this vital effort.
As we work to liberalize trade and investment through Doha, the United States also supports the vision of a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific. This would be a free trade area that incorporates all APEC economies and reduces barriers to trade and investment across the entire Asia Pacific region.
Under Prime Minister Howard’s leadership, APEC is holding its first major discussions on a practical set of priorities for cooperation on energy security, clean development, and climate change. And we agree that these issues must be addressed in an integrated way.
The work we do here at APEC will make an important contribution to the global discussions in the UN about a new framework on energy security and climate change.
Later this month, the United States will convene a series of meetings of the nations that produce the most greenhouse gas emissions, including nations with rapidly growing economies like India and China.
Violent Islamic extremists have killed the innocent in Bali, Jakarta, Manila, and other cities. The leaders of al Qaida have issued threats against Australia, Japan, and South Korea. And for each attack terrorists and extremists have carried out in this part of the world, many others have been foiled, in places such as Singapore, Manila, Melbourne, and Sydney.
The fight against the terrorists in this region is one of the untold success stories of the war on terror, and the rest of the world has a lot to learn from the approach to terrorism taken in this region.
... Nations in the Asia Pacific are providing economic assistance to struggling communities where the terrorists operate so we can strengthen moderate leaders and give citizens in these communities alternatives to the path of radicalism and violence. ... Nations in the Asia Pacific are increasing regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Malaysia and the United States have established a regional counter-terrorism training center in Kuala Lumpur, and law enforcement training centers in Jakarta and Bangkok are improving the capabilities of security forces from across the region.
... In Indonesia, President Yudhoyono hosted an interfaith dialogue soon after taking office where he called on his fellow citizens to ensure that “the forces of light, reason, and hope overpower the forces of darkness, despair, and violence.” ... In Malaysia, Prime Minister Badawi is working to promote what he calls “Islam Hadhari” or “Civilizational Islam” and he has called on his fellow Malaysians to “show by example that a Muslim country can be modern, democratic, tolerant, and economically competitive.”
We must work for the day when the people of North Korea enjoy the same freedoms as the citizens of their democratic neighbors ... We must press the regime in Burma to stop arresting, harassing, and assaulting pro-democracy activists for organizing or participating in peaceful demonstrations.
The Burmese regime must release these activists immediately, stop its intimidation of those Burmese citizens who are promoting democracy and human rights, and release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi ...
We will continue working with nations like Russia to advance our shared interests in the world while encouraging Russia’s leaders to respect the checks and balances that are essential to democracy.
We will encourage China to open up its political system and give greater voice to its people. As our relationships with South Korea and Taiwan during the Cold War prove, it is possible to maintain friendships and push toward democracy at the same time.
Next year, China will host the Olympic Games, and it will be a moment of pride for the Chinese people. It will also be a moment when the eyes of the entire world will fall on Beijing. We urge China’s leaders to use this moment to show confidence by demonstrating a commitment to greater openness and tolerance.
And we look forward to free and fair elections in Thailand.
Many APEC countries are supporting the advance of freedom in this region ... So this week, the United States is proposing the creation of a new Asia Pacific Democracy Partnership. Through this partnership, free nations will work together to support democratic values, strengthen democratic institutions, and assist those who are working to build and sustain free societies across the Asia Pacific region.
The lesson of freedom’s advance in the Asia-Pacific region is that the desire for liberty is universal, written by our Creator into the heart of every man, woman, and child on this earth. Whenever they are given the chance, people of every culture and religion choose freedom and democracy.
The outcome of the battle in Iraq matters to the security of the United States, it matters to the security of the Asia Pacific region, and it matters to the security of the civilized world. Prime Minister Howard also visited Iraq this year ... He says if we leave Iraq before the job is done “it would represent a devastating blow to the hopes of a stable future for the Middle East. It would embolden the Iranians, it would unsettle and destabilize the more moderate elements amongst the Arab states in the region, and it would represent a monumental victory for the cause of international terrorism.”