Joe Biden welcomes India’s emergence as a force in South East Asia

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US Vice President Joe Biden today said his country welcomes and encourages India’s emergence as a force for security and growth in Southeast Asia and beyond, as he outlined America’s efforts to embrace Asia and broaden global prosperity.

Biden is slated to visit India soon.”One of the reasons why President (Barack) Obama called our relations with India, quote, ‘a defining partnership of the century ahead’ is that India is increasingly looking east as a force for security and growth in Southeast Asia and beyond,” the 70-year-old Vice President said.

“To us, that’s welcome news. We encourage it,” he told audience at the prestigious George Washington University here while speaking on the ‘US policy toward the Asia-Pacific region and India’s growing role in the region’.

Excerpts of his speech are as follows:

“In terms of economics, the Asia-Pacific region —- stretching from India to the Pacific nations of the Americas -— is home to a middle class of about a billion people. Some of the fastest growing growth rates in the world are within that region. Emerging markets whose choices will shape the character of the entire global economy are within that purview.

So we reached out. We reached out to deepen economic ties and promote open markets and a rule-based competition for the 21st century.

In the Asia-Pacific, we saw a region of remarkable promise, but also genuine uncertainty and political risk. Many nations have experienced rapid economic transformation that has fundamentally created a new dynamic: rising ambitions and rising tensions. But the rules and norms that could provide predictability to deal with both those changes, the order needed remained incomplete.

We are addressing the challenges in our economic relationships with China as well. They are not at all inconsistent. We do not view our relationship and future relations with China in terms of conflict or the talk of inevitable conflict. We view it in terms of a healthy mix of competition and cooperation. A competition that we welcome. It’s stamped into our DNA. We like to compete. Competition is good for both of us, as long as the game is fair.

It is clear that the Chinese understand that to reverse their declining growth, there are internal reforms they need to make — not reforms we’re suggesting they have to make. They’ve made their own judgment — judgments if they follow through on them will not only help China in our view, but help the region and the world. They’ve concluded China needs to shift to a more consumer-driven economy. They’ve concluded they have to create a market-based, well-regulated financial system. And they’ve concluded they need to liberalize their exchange rates. It will be difficult. It’s difficult internally for them to do that, but I’m convinced they believe — and we clearly do — that it’s necessary.

And we are engaging directly with India as it makes some fundamental choices that the Ambassador could speak to more directly than I could about its own economic future.

In the last 13 years, we’ve increased fivefold our bilateral trade, reaching nearly $100 billion. But if you look at it from a distance, an uninformed person looked at it from a distance, there is no reason, that if our countries make the right choices, trade cannot grow fivefold or more.

And the issues that young people are seized with all across Asia and the world — corruption, land rights, pollution, food and product safety — these are all fundamentally linked to openness and transparency, to greater rights and freedom.

In my humble opinion, no nation has to adopt the exact system we have. That’s not what I’m suggesting at all. But it’s awful hard to be innovative where you can’t breathe free. It’s awful hard to make significant technological breakthroughs where orthodoxy is the norm.

In my humble opinion, the very things that made us such a prosperous, innovative and resilient nation — our openness, our free exchange of ideas, free enterprise and liberty — all of which have their downsides, as we’ve recently seen in Boston and other places — they have downsides — but we would not trade them for all the world.

Presumptuous for me to say, because you never tell another leader what’s in their interest, never tell another country what they should do. But I believe these elements are the fundamental ingredients for success for any nation in the 21st century.

There was that famous line by the founder of Apple, when asked at Stanford, what do I have to do to be more like you? And his response was, think different. You can only think different where you can think freely, where you can breathe free air.

So let me conclude by saying we see, as Neera said, this is not a zero-sum game. It’s overwhelmingly in our interest that India continues to grow. It’s overwhelmingly in our interest that China grows. It’s overwhelmingly in our interest that the world economy grow. Because we believe Asia’s success is fundamentally linked to ours.

So the President and I are going to continue to reach across the ocean, both east and west, particularly to the indispensable Pacific nations, to help us shape a prosperous future, for America, for their people, and I would argue for the world. “

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