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U.S. Department of State
96/04/09 Speech and Q&A on Global Environmental Challenges
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
(Palo Alto, California)
Text As Prepared for Delivery April 9, 1996
Address and Q&A Session by
Secretary of State Warren Christopher
"American Diplomacy and the Global Environmental Challenges
of the 21st Century"
April 9, 1996
Thank you very much for that kind introduction. I am especially honored
to be introduced by Gerhard, whom I have known and admired in his
various incarnations, especially his current one. Even putting aside my
personal ties, I can think of no better venue for my remarks today on
global environmental issues than this university. From the founding of
the Sierra Club in 1892 to the first Earth Day in 1970, Stanford faculty
and alumni have led efforts to preserve our country's natural resources
for future generations. Your centers for Conservation Biology and
Global Ecosystem Function have done pioneering work. Let me also say
that I am personally grateful for the continuing work of Coach
Montgomery and Coach Willingham to keep the California Bear population
With strong leadership from President Clinton and Vice President Gore,
our Administration has recognized from the beginning that our ability to
advance our global interests is inextricably linked to how we manage the
Earth's natural resources. That is why we are determined to put
environmental issues where they belong: in the mainstream of American
foreign policy. I appreciate and value this opportunity to outline our
far-reaching agenda to integrate fully environmental objectives into our
diplomacy, and to set forth our priorities for the future.
The environment has a profound impact on our national interests in two
ways: First, environmental forces transcend borders and oceans to
threaten directly the health, prosperity and jobs of American citizens.
Second, addressing natural resource issues is frequently critical to
achieving political and economic stability, and to pursuing our
strategic goals around the world.
The United States is providing the leadership to promote global peace
and prosperity. We must also lead in safeguarding the global
environment on which that prosperity and peace ultimately depend.
In 1946, when I came to Stanford as a law student, the connection
between the environment and foreign policy was not so readily apparent.
At home, Americans were entering a period of unprecedented prosperity
fueled by seemingly infinite resources. Abroad, we were beginning to
focus on the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union.
And I was trying to master the intricacies of contracts, torts, and
something called remedies, taught by Stanford's version of John
Houseman. I was also trying to measure up to the high standards set by
a new young Dean, Carl Spaeth, who had just come to Stanford from a very
promising career at the State Department, and who first stimulated my
interest in the work in which I am now engaged full time.
But since 1946, population growth, economic progress, and technological
breakthroughs have combined to fundamentally reshape our world. It took
more than 10,000 generations to reach a world population of just over
two billion. In just my lifetime -- a period that may seem like an
eternity to many of the students in the audience -- the world's
population has nearly tripled to more than five-and-a-half billion.
These changes are putting staggering pressures on global resources.
From 1960 to 1990, the world's forests shrank by an amount equivalent to
one-half the land area of the United States. Countless species of
animals and plants are being wiped out, including many with potential
value for agriculture and medicine. Pollution of our air and water
endangers our health and our future.
In carrying out America's foreign policy, we will of course use our
diplomacy backed by strong military forces to meet traditional and
continuing threats to our security, as well as to meet new threats such
as terrorism, weapons proliferation, drug trafficking and international
crime. But we must also contend with the vast new danger posed to our
national interests by damage to the environment and resulting global and
As the flagship institution of American foreign policy, the State
Department must spearhead a government-wide effort to meet these
environmental challenges. Together with other government agencies, we
are pursuing our environmental priorities -- globally, regionally,
bilaterally, and in partnership with business and nongovernmental
organizations. Each of these four dimensions is essential to the
success of our overall strategy.
First, our approach to these problems must be global because pollution
respects no boundaries, and the growing demand for finite resources in
any part of the world inevitably puts pressure on the resources in all
Across the United States, Americans suffer the consequences of damage to
the environment far beyond our borders. Greenhouse gases released
around the globe by power plants, automobiles and burning forests affect
our health and our climate, potentially causing many billions of dollars
in damage from rising sea levels and changing storm patterns. Dangerous
chemicals such as PCBs and DDT that are banned here but still used
elsewhere travel long distances through the air and water. Overfishing
of the world's oceans has put thousands of Americans out of work. A
foreign policy that failed to address such problems would be ignoring
the needs of the American people.
Each nation must take steps on its own to combat these environmental
threats, but we will not succeed until we can effectively fight them
together. That realization inspired the pathbreaking efforts of the
United Nations at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment 25
years ago, and at the historic Rio Summit on Environment and Development
four years ago. There, the international community forged a new global
commitment to "preserve, protect and restore...the Earth's ecosystem"
and to promote economic development in ways that also preserve our
Since Rio, the United States has intensified our global efforts. We led
the way to an agreement to phase out the remaining substances that
damage the ozone layer, to ban the ocean dumping of low-level
radioactive waste, and to achieve a new consensus in Cairo on
stabilizing global population growth.
We are working to reform and strengthen the UN's key environmental and
sustainable development programs. We have joined forces with the World
Bank to incorporate sound environmental policies in lending programs,
and to fund projects through the Global Environment Facility that
directly benefit our health and prosperity. And we are striving through
the new World Trade Organization to reconcile the complex tensions
between promoting trade and protecting the environment -- and to ensure
that neither comes at the expense of the other.
This year, we will begin negotiating agreements with the potential to
make 1997 the most important year for the global environment since the
Rio Summit. We will seek agreement on further cuts in greenhouse gases
to minimize the effects of climate change. We will help lead an
international process to address the problems caused by toxic chemicals
that can seep into our land and water, poisoning them for generations.
We will develop a strategy for the sustainable management of the world's
forests -- a resource that every great civilization has discovered is
"indispensable for carrying on life," as the Roman historian Pliny once
wrote. We will work with Congress to ratify the Biodiversity
Convention, which holds benefits for American agriculture and business.
We will also seek ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty which
safeguards our access to ocean resources. We will provide the
leadership needed to ensure that this June's UN Summit in Istanbul
effectively confronts the pressing problems associated with the
explosive growth of cities in the developing world.
Finally, by the end of 1997, the State Department will host a conference
on strategies to improve our compliance with international environmental
agreements -- to ensure that those agreements yield lasting results, not
This is a daunting global agenda. Achieving these goals will take time
and perseverance. But I often remember Don Kennedy's advice to
graduates to set a "standard higher than you can comfortably reach."
The second element of our strategy -- the regional element -- is to
confront pollution and the scarcity of resources in key areas where they
dramatically increase tensions within and among nations. Nowhere is
this more evident than in the parched valleys of the Middle East, where
the struggle for water has a direct impact on security and stability.
In my many trips to the region, I have seen how rapid population growth
and pollution can raise the stakes in water disputes as ancient as the
Old Testament. As Shimon Peres once remarked to me, "The Jordan River
has more history in it than water." We are helping the parties in the
Middle East peace process to manage the region's water resources -- to
turn a source of conflict into a force for peace.
There can be no doubt that building stable market democracies in the
former Soviet Union and Central Europe will reinforce our own security.
However, for these new nations to succeed, we must help them overcome
the poisonous factories, soot-filled skies and ruined rivers that are
one of the bitter legacies of communism. The experience of this region
demonstrates that governments that abuse their citizens too often have a
similar contempt for the environment.
Three weeks ago in Kiev, I walked through the wards of a children's
hospital that treats the victims of Chernobyl. I saw first-hand the
terrible damage that this 10-year-old catastrophe still inflicts on the
region's people. We are helping Ukraine to ensure that there will be no
more Chernobyls. In Central Asia, we are helping nations recover from
Soviet irrigation practices that turned much of the Aral Sea into an
ocean of sand. Our Regional Environment Center in Budapest supports the
civic groups in Central Europe that are essential to a healthy democracy
and to a healthy environment.
The United States also has an enormous stake in consolidating democratic
institutions and open markets in our own hemisphere. To deepen the
remarkable transformation that is taking place across Latin America and
the Caribbean, we are advancing the agenda for sustainable development
that our 34 democracies adopted at the Miami Summit of the Americas. To
help democracy succeed, for example, we must ease the pressures of
deforestation and rapid population growth that I have seen at work in
the bare hills and crowded city streets of Haiti. To sustain our
prosperity, we must work to preserve the rich diversity of life that I
saw in the Amazon rainforest. To help heal the wounds of old conflicts,
we must reverse the environmental damage that has narrowed economic
opportunities and fueled illegal immigration from El Salvador. And to
help combat drug trafficking and crime, we are encouraging sustainable
agriculture as an alternative to the slash-and-burn cultivation of opium
poppies and coca from Guatemala to Colombia. These goals will be high
on our agenda at the Sustainable Development Summit this December in
In Africa, we are pursuing environmental efforts designed to save tens
of thousands of lives, prevent armed conflict, and avert the need for
costly international intervention. Our Greater Horn of Africa
Initiative, for example, addresses the root causes of environmental
problems that can turn droughts into famines, and famines into civil
wars. We must not forget the hard lessons of Rwanda, where depleted
resources and swollen populations exacerbated the political and economic
pressures that exploded into one of this decade's greatest tragedies.
We also have a national interest in helping the nations of the region
address the AIDS crisis, which is decimating a whole generation of young
Africans and wasting the economic resources that African nations so
desperately need to build stable governments and a brighter economic
To intensify our regional environmental efforts, we will establish
Environmental Hubs in our embassies in key countries. These will
address pressing regional natural resource issues, advance sustainable
development goals, and help U.S. businesses to sell their leading-edge
The third element of our strategy is to work bilaterally with key
partners around the world -- beginning, of course, with our next-door
neighbors. Whether it is fishing on the Georges Bank or in the Gulf of
Mexico, or clean drinking water from the Great Lakes or the Rio Grande,
we cannot separate our environmental interests from those of Canada or
We are extending our century-old cooperation with Canada on behalf of
clean water and flood control in the Great Lakes region. We are
improving conservation in our adjoining national park lands. Through
the U.S.-Canada Joint Commission, we are protecting human health and
natural habitats. And with all our Arctic neighbors, we are
establishing a partnership to protect that fragile region.
Our joint efforts with Mexico have grown in importance since NAFTA took
effect just over two years ago. Under the NAFTA side agreements on the
environment, we have set up new institutions to help communities on both
sides of the border safeguard the natural resources they share. Later
this spring, we will launch an innovative program that will enable
business and government leaders from Texas, New Mexico, and Ciudad
Juarez to reduce some of the region's worst air pollution. When our two
nations' cabinets meet in Mexico City next month, I will emphasize the
importance of Mexico continuing to strengthen its environmental
Through our Common Agenda with Japan, the world's two largest economies
are pooling their resources and expertise to stabilize population
growth, to eradicate polio, to fight AIDS, and to develop new "green"
Our New Transatlantic Agenda with the European Union will spur global
efforts on such issues as climate change and toxic chemicals. Together,
we are already advancing our environmental goals in Central Europe and
the New Independent States.
Russia and China are both confronting major environmental problems that
will have a profound effect on their future -- and on ours.
In Russia, the fate of democracy may depend on its ability to offer the
Russian people better living standards and to reverse a shocking decline
in life expectancy. From Murmansk to Vladivostok, poorly stored nuclear
waste poses a threat to human life for centuries to come. Economic
reforms will not meet their potential if one-sixth of the Russian land
mass remains so polluted that it is unfit even for industrial use, and
if Russian children are handicapped by the poisons they breathe and
We are cooperating with Russia to meet these challenges. Ten days from
now, President Clinton will join President Yeltsin and other leaders at
a Nuclear Safety Summit in Moscow which will promote the safe operation
of nuclear reactors and the appropriate storage of nuclear materials.
Vice President Gore and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin are spearheading
joint initiatives to preserve the Arctic environment, reduce greenhouse
gases, and promote the management of key natural resources. We are even
taking the satellite imagery once used to spot missiles and tanks and
using it to help clean up military bases and track ocean pollution.
As we discussed this morning at your Institute for International
Studies, the environmental challenges that China faces are truly
sobering. With 22 percent of the world's population, China has only
seven percent of its fresh water and cropland, three percent of its
forests, and two percent of its oil. The combination of China's rapid
economic growth and surging population is compounding the enormous
environmental pressures it already faces. That is one of the many
reasons why our policy of engagement with China encompasses the
environment. Later this month, Vice President Gore will launch an
initiative that will expand U.S.-China cooperation on sustainable
development, including elements such as energy policy and agriculture.
In our other bilateral relationships, we have created partnerships that
strengthen our ties while moving beyond the outdated thinking that once
predicted an inevitable struggle between North and South. Under the
Common Agenda for the Environment we signed last year with India, for
example, we are cooperating on a broad range of shared interests from
investing in environmental technologies to controlling pesticides and
toxic chemicals. During my trip to Brazil last month, we strengthened a
similar Common Agenda with agreements on cooperation in space that will
widen our knowledge about climate change and improve management of
The fourth and final element of our strategy reinforces these diplomatic
approaches by building partnerships with private businesses and
American businesses know that a healthy global environment is essential
to our prosperity. Increasingly, they recognize that pitting economic
growth against environmental protection is what President Clinton has
called "a false choice." Both are necessary, and both are closely
Protecting the environment also opens new business opportunities. We
are committed to helping U.S. companies expand their already commanding
share of a $400 billion market for environmental technologies. This
effort was one of many championed by my late colleague and friend,
Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. His last mission to Africa helped an
American firm win a contract that will protect fisheries and fresh water
supplies for 30 million people in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. On my
recent visit to El Salvador, I met with U.S. firms, nongovernmental
organizations and their Central American partners who are pioneering the
use of solar and wind power stations.
Nongovernmental organizations working with USAID have played a crucial
role in advancing our environmental objectives overseas. For many
years, for example, the Sierra Club has been deeply engaged in
international population efforts and it made an important contribution
to the Cairo Conference. As part of these joint efforts, the World
Wildlife Fund is helping to conserve biodiversity in more than 40
countries, the World Resources Institute is confronting deforestation in
Africa, and the Nature Conservancy is protecting wildlife preserves
across Latin America. Through the State Department's new "Partnership
for Environment and Foreign Policy," we will bring together
environmental organizations, business leaders and foreign policy
specialists to enhance our cooperation in meeting environmental
It is the responsibility of the State Department to lead in ensuring the
success of each one of the four elements of the strategy that I have
discussed today - global, regional, bilateral and partnerships with
business and NGOs. Working closely with the President and the Vice
President, I have instructed our bureaus and our embassies to improve
the way we use our diplomacy to advance our environmental objectives.
We will raise these issues on every occasion where our influence may be
useful. We will bolster our ability to blend diplomacy and science, and
to negotiate global agreements that protect our health and well-being.
We will reinforce the role of the Under Secretary for Global Affairs
which was created at the beginning of our Administration to address
transnational issues. We will strengthen our efforts with USAID to
promote sustainable development through effective environment and family
planning assistance. And we will reinforce the environmental
partnerships that we have formed with the EPA, and the departments of
Defense, Energy, Commerce, Interior and Agriculture.
In addition, I am announcing today that starting on Earth Day 1997, the
Department will issue an annual report on Global Environmental
Challenges. This report will be an essential tool of our environmental
diplomacy, bringing together an assessment of global environmental
trends, international policy developments, and U.S. priorities for the
I will continue to work with the Congress to ensure the success of our
environmental efforts. The current Congress has slashed critical
funding for needed environmental programs at home and abroad. We will
press Congress to provide the necessary resources to get the job done.
Our strength as a nation has always been to harness our democracy to
meet new threats to our security and prosperity. Our creed as a people
has always been to make tomorrow better for ourselves and for our
children. Drawing on the same ideals and interests that have led
Americans from Teddy Roosevelt to Ed Muskie to put a priority on
preserving our land, our skies and our waters at home, we must meet the
challenge of making global environmental issues a vital part of our
foreign policy. For the sake of future generations, we must succeed.
Thank you very much.
Q&A SESSION FOLLOWING ADDRESS BY
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
"AMERICAN DIPLOMACY AND THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES
OF THE 21ST CENTURY"
Stanford University Memorial Stadium
Palo Alto, California
April 9, 1996
MODERATOR: The Secretary has agreed to take questions. There are two
microphones -- one over there and one supposedly over there that I
cannot see -- and I encourage you to come forward to the microphone. I
am a law professor: if you don't volunteer, I call on you. (Laughter)
QUESTION: I'd like to first thank you for doing this -- for making a
speech about the environment and being the Secretary of State, all in
the same basket. It seems like something that hasn't happened in recent
I'd also like to comment on generally the trend of your comment. One
thing that you said, that there was a false dichotomy, as mentioned by
President Clinton, between growth and the environment. Another point
you mentioned that neither the environment nor trade will be
compromised, and at another point you mentioned that a goal of the
Administration is to spur global growth with agreements with the
What this all brings to mind for me is the idea that there aren't really
any ecological or natural-resource based limits to the amount of
economic growth that can happen in the world, and that seems to be a
fundamental misconception from my point of view about the course of
future environmental events and economic events.
It seems that no one is willing to say, "Maybe there is a limit to how
much we can grow. Maybe there is a limit to what we can produce
economically to the amount of trade there is." I think this idea is
highlighted by the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which is, I think, the single most
important thing that the Administration to this date has done with
regard to the environment and a very negative thing -- as far as I know
anything about it, which is, I admit, is not very deeply -- but I do
know that it --
MODERATOR: Make it a little shorter, please. (Laughter)
QUESTION: Okay. How can America, at the same time that we support a
company like McDonald's by giving them subsidies, say a few million
dollars, to promote themselves in other countries? You mentioned at one
point the cars that spew out carbon dioxide. Americans own half the
cars in the world. So if we promote the American lifestyle with the
general populace, how can we keep growing at the rate we are and promote
this kind of lifestyle?
MODERATOR: Thank you, I think that was a softball question.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I'm glad that at least one person in the
audience carefully listened to my remarks. Thank you very much.
I share President Clinton's view that it's a false choice between the
two. Certainly we've not, by any means, reached the limit of our growth
compatible with protecting the environment.
You used the example of the automobile. But the United States also
leads the way in ensuring that automobiles do not create pollution. You
go around the world and you see the lower standards with respect to
automobile exhaust and you understand that the United States has been in
the vanguard of that effort as well.
I was very struck when I was in Manaus, on the Amazon, to talk with the
Governor of the province where Manaus is. He said, "We've learned here
in Brazil as well that you have to reconcile the demands of the
environment and the economy." In earlier years, you'd never expect the
Governor of that region to be saying things like that. So I think we're
all learning ways that we can reconcile those demands.
They're not easy. I don't want to make these problems seem too easy.
If I were to criticize my own speech today, it would be not to have
emphasized the difficulties enough. The main thing is to keep working
at it and find ways to reconcile the two in the interests of our
citizens, which is, after all, what this is all about.
QUESTION: First, on behalf of the (inaudible), we thank you for your
kind remarks about our organization.
You also commented in the communist context on the connection between
societies that abuse their people and societies that abuse their
environment. We are obviously seeing a very tragic example of that
problem play itself currently in Nigeria, where a society is abusing its
people at least in part so that it can continue to abuse its
Can you brief us on the current progress of your efforts and this
Administration's efforts to achieve international consensus on actions
to be taken against the Nigerian regime?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: First, on your general point. It seems to be
one of the laws of international behavior that countries that abuse
their people also abuse the environment. Haiti is a classic example of
that as well.
With respect to Nigeria, we're strongly opposed to the conduct of the
regime there and we're trying to lead an international consensus to
bring home to that regime that their conduct will not go unpunished in
It's always a difficult balance of concern about the people of the
country wanting to impose sanctions or take steps that will send
effective messages to the leaders of the regime, and at the same time
not impose unnecessary burdens on the people of the country.
There's really no perfect solution to that problem. But let me say that
our Administration is determined to take whatever steps we can to try to
persuade that regime to return to the path of reform, to permit the
recent elections to have the given effect. But most of all to stop
their really terrible abuses of human rights of the citizens.
I can't offer any great prescriptions here. We have had a series of
special Ambassadors, special emissaries to Nigeria. The problem is
unresolved but very much on our agenda, working with the Commonwealth
countries, working with the United Kingdom and others who share our deep
concern for Nigeria.
I remember it was only a few years ago that Nigeria was regarded as one
of the most promising emerging countries in the entire world. Now, it
has slipped back with poor leadership and with abuse of its peoples.
QUESTION: Two brief questions, Mr. Secretary. The first one is a
follow-up to the previous question this gentleman had. The real
(inaudible) highlighted the divergence and environment, and what is
perceived as an environmental problem between the north and the south,
and (inaudible) consumption as a strong environmental problem.
I wonder if there has been thought on linking sustainable development
with sustainable consumption in both the north and the south?
The second question is, has there been any thought on looking at the
problem of intellectual property rights as you try to partner with
businesses to export U.S. environmental technology to countries like
China and the developing world which do not have respect for
intellectual property rights and for better or worse, cannot affect
(inaudible) U.S. technology?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: On the first question, with respect to
north/south issues. No doubt, trying to promote sustainable development
around the world and to make it compatible with sustainable consumption
remains a very challenging issue.
One thing that has happened over this last period, though, is that the
tensions between the two have given way to an understanding of the need
for cooperation. For example, at the Conference on Sustainable
Development this year in Bolivia, we'll be focusing with many developing
countries on ways to promote sustainable development in a cooperative
endeavor rather than in a tense endeavor.
On the second part of your question, it is one of the highest priorities
of the State Department to work with American businesses in order to
enable them to get an even larger share of the $400 billion market that
appears to be out there in environmental technologies around the world.
This is a classic case of being able to do good while doing well,
because we are probably more advanced than any other country in the
world in environmental technologies and we want to make those available
around the world.
Our embassies around the world are instructed to give the highest degree
of cooperation to American companies who are trying to gain that kind of
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you spoke in your speech that you'll be using
mostly bilateral, regional, and a partnership message to implement this
new environmental policy. I think that you recognized also in your
speech that this is a uniquely multilateral problem for all the people
of the world.
As a member of the Stanford Model United Nations Group, I'd like to ask
how you're going to work -- the State Department and the Clinton
Administration is going to work within existing structures, including
the United Nations and the United Nations Environmental Program, to
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I'm glad to see that somebody else listened to
my speech carefully.
As I said, we are going to use the remainder of 1996 to try to ensure
that 1997 is a banner year on the environment.
We'll be working through the United Nations. There are a number of
things that we'll be focusing on. First, there is the United Nations
conference on the cities, called Urbanization in Istanbul, and we'll be
working to make that a major success. We'll be working on the
conference in Bolivia that I mentioned. We'll be, generally speaking,
using the tremendous engine that the United Nations is to try to reach
There are two important treaties that were negotiated with United
Nations help, which hopefully we can get confirmed in the Congress this
year -- the Biodiversity Treaty and the Law of the Sea Treaty --
although their congressional prospects, I must say, are less good than I
wish they were.
But I think the overall answer to your question is that I think only a
combination of the various approaches that I mentioned -- both globally
through the United Nations and other multilateral institutions,
regionally through the regional institutions bilaterally and also to
business and NGOs can we address this problem. No one of those
approaches is adequate.
I understood your reference to your involvement in the United Nations,
and that's highly commendable. I think that the United Nations is
perhaps underrated for the amount that they have accomplished. The
United Nations has gotten a black eye because of some failures in the
peacekeeping area. But day in and day out, as you know better than I,
the United Nations does extremely important things in the areas of
health, environment, and so forth. So we'll continue to support the
United Nations and use it as a mechanism to address these environmental
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I was wondering if the State Department has
any plans on how to deal with third-world nations. I feel that rapid
development, even with all those negative consequences for the
environment, is the only way to enter the global economy.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: That's a fair question. The answer to it is
that we regularly counsel third-world nations to try to have a balance
between development and their concern for the environment and other
aspects of life. I think it's very shortsighted for them to go hell
bent on the economy, but it's very seductive for countries that see
economic growth as the sole goal of their nation.
The United States, with all of its resources and power and influence,
mainly can be a persuasive force here. There are some possible carrots
and sticks we can use. For example, we have many environmental programs
around the world. We will tend to use those environmental programs in
countries where there are some real prospects of a future, where the
countries seem to have a concern for their environment.
There are some particular sanctions that might be employed; but more
than that, I think I'd like to emphasize the importance of counseling by
the United States, trying to persuade countries to take the long view,
to insure balanced progress, because that progress is likely to be a
permanent, tangible progress rather than just a short-term gain.
Maybe one more.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, my question is related to a past question.
I'm currently a Malaysian studying in the (inaudible) Master's Program
in the Earth Systems Department of Stanford. As you know, Malaysia has
a lot of natural resources, and we also have a problem with economic
I'd like to know specifically how this American foreign policy tends to
-- would like to deal with the issues. You mentioned counseling, but as
far as (inaudible), Prime Minister is often outspoken that counseling is
not enough, because we need natural resources to promote economic
growth. So is there anything else besides just pure counseling that you
think would be in the agenda for American foreign policy?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I think I grasp the essence of your question.
Of course, Malaysia is one of the tremendous success stories of Asia at
the present time. The growth is really quite fabulous. Driving in from
the airport to Kuala Lumpur you see a staggering amount of growth. I'm
sure it comes at some cost.
We meet with Malaysian leaders -- President Mahathir and others -- on a
regular basis in APEC -- the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum --
where Malaysia has the advantage of conferring and dealing with the
other Asian nations, especially the ASEAN nations, of which it is such a
prominent part. I think that it's important for them to learn lessons
from their fellow Asian countries.
The United States has to be very careful not to be in a position of
lecturing on this kind of a subject. A country with as rapid growth as
Malaysia, though, obviously has to take into account the need for
balance, the need to insure that it will work in the long run.
But those dynamic countries of Southeast Asia, I think, are moving
forward in a tremendously rapid way. They are our largest growing
customer in that region. I can't offer anything better than to say to
you we will continue to work with countries like Malaysia in the many
forums where we meet them. Bilaterally, Prime Minister Mahathir has
been here. I've been there more than once. I meet them. I'll be
meeting them again this summer. They'll draw strength not only
bilaterally from the United States but regionally in the ASEAN forum and
in broader international forums such as APEC.
I'm sure that the neighbors probably have the biggest influence on
Malaysia, but we'll try to have an appropriate influence as well.
Thank you all. I'm very sorry to leave these questions unanswered. I
greatly enjoyed being here.
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