H.E. Tom Udall is the ambassador of the United States of America to New Zealand.
This month, Secretary Blinken, at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, outlined the US vision of the future: a world that is open, free, prosperous, and secure.
That vision is not America's alone. The enduring aspiration of the people in every nation, on every continent, is for a world where individuals are free to shape their own futures, their own communities, and their own countries; a world where every nation can choose its own path and its own partners; a world where goods, ideas, and individuals can flow freely and lawfully across land, sea, sky and cyberspace; a world where technology is used to empower people, not to divide, surveil, and repress them; a world where the global economy is defined by fair competition, openness and transparency; a world where prosperity is measured not only by how much countries’ economies grow, but by how many people share in that growth; a world that generates a race to the top in labour and environmental standards, in health, education, infrastructure, technology, security and opportunity; a world in which international law and the core principles of the UN charter are upheld and where universal human rights are respected.
It is our belief that much of the history of the twenty-first century will be written in this vitally important region of the Pacific — because what happens in one corner of this vast region can have dramatic effects elsewhere. Our goal is to build the collective capacity of like-minded allies, partners, and friends, to advance shared priorities, to bolster the rules-based regional order from which we all have benefited, and to ensure that the Pacific region witnesses a race to the top.
As in the United States and in my home State of New Mexico, people throughout this region want to ensure that their families are cared for so that they are able to fulfill their goals and potential. We can do this only by working together to uphold and improve the rules-based international system that has been fundamental to regional security and stability. That system has pulled so many out of poverty and created the innovative world we live in today. But we know that some people have been left behind, and we must strive to lift everyone up. We must work together to revitalize and improve our global institutions.
We're determined to work with any country, including those with whom we disagree on important issues, so long as they want to deliver for their citizens, to contribute to solving shared challenges, and to uphold the international norms that we have built and are building together.
Under Secretary Yellen's leadership, we are making a major push to revitalize and reform the multilateral development banks. We want to ensure that they can meet the pressing needs of low and middle income countries which are facing multiple challenges: the growing impact of climate crisis, economic fallout from covid inflation, and crushing debt.
We are working through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework to build resilient supply chains, improve trade flows, combat corruption, and promote clean energy, decarbonisation, and infrastructure.
But our policies and actions are not carried out in a vacuum. Our leaders are committed to engaging with, and listening to the challenges and solutions of others, especially here in the Pacific.
The Pacific is a dynamic region full of diversity, people, thoughts and approaches — full of solutions, and full of people tackling the most pressing global daily issues. We will continue to open embassies across the region to ensure our leadership in Washington has a direct line to these ideas and solutions as part of listening, engaging, and consulting with our Pacific friends. This month we established diplomatic relations with Cook Islands and Niue. President Biden hosted Pacific Island leaders at the second US Pacific Island Forum Summit.
We are also aligning our efforts and strategies to help the Pacific region achieve its specified objectives as outlined in the Pacific Island Forum’s 2050 strategy for the Blue Pacific. We support Pacific regionalism with a strong Pacific Islands Forum at its centre. With our partners in the Blue Pacific initiative, we are working to coordinate multi-lateral action in the region. This initiative has already engendered several lines of effort: for example, humanitarian warehousing to pre-position humanitarian and emergency supplies (as agreed by Pacific Island Forum ministers at the inaugural meeting held at the Nadi annual Pacific Cyber Capacity Conference); further support to the Pacific Climate Change Centre in Samoa; and support to access climate finance. As we look to the future, we are committed to engaging a wide range of partners, in the Pacific region and beyond, to forge an international consensus that can harness the potential of emerging technologies like AI while minimizing risk.
I would also like to take this opportunity to dispel some misinformation. We are not trying to contain China. We do not seek a new cold war with China. We are not asking partners to choose between ourselves and China. And most certainly we do not seek conflict with China. When we talk about competition that does not mean conflict.
When we talk about competition, we're talking about putting forth our vision for the future which upholds democratic values and the rules-based international system from a US perspective. Competition with China isn’t inevitable. We try to be positive with the PRC.We embrace them and welcome them into the international system. However, when any country, including China, challenges aspects of an internationally established system that has brought stability and economic growth across the globe, we will call them out, and present our views in a peaceful and transparent manner.
President Biden has been clear about our strategy, which remains to invest, align, and compete. We are investing in the foundations of our strength at home, aligning with partners and allies on our approach abroad, and harnessing two key assets to compete with the People’s Republic of China: the defence of our interests and the implementation of our vision for the future.
We believe that working with a network of allies and partners will allow us to manage our competition with China from a position of strength — speaking clearly, credibly, and with a chorus of friends sharing our concerns.
Our leaders are committed to maintaining open lines of communication — which can help to reduce risks of miscalculations. We want an international environment that makes it possible for all countries, including the United States and China, to coexist and cooperate without fear of coercion.
Fundamentally, the United States and its partners share and represent values very different to those of China. We represent the rules-based order that ensures a free and open Indo-Pacific. It on behalf of these values that we will continue to compete. History has shown that free societies, working together, are a formidable force. As the world faces new challenges, we believe the only solution is to deepen cooperation and to listen to partners, while at the same time presenting our views of the future in a full and transparent manner.