Foreign Press Center: Preview of President Obama’s Travel to China and Laos

MODERATOR: Good evening.

Welcome to the Foreign Press Center.

Thank you for joining us.

Thank you for accommodating us with the schedulechange, as well.

We’re very grateful to have three very distinguishedbriefers with us today to preview President Obama’s travel to China and Laos.

In the middle is Daniel Kritenbrink, SeniorDirector for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council.

On the far side is Christina Segal-Knowles, Special Assistant to the President for International Economics and NSC Senior Director for GlobalEconomics and Finance.

To my right side is Daniel Russel, AssistantSecretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

They will make opening statements in thatorder, and then I will moderate a question-and-answer session.

We’ll welcome our guests from New York, as appropriate.

With that, welcome to the Foreign Press Center.

Mr.

Kritenbrink.

MR KRITENBRINK: Well, thank you.

Good evening, everyone.

Hi, I’m Dan Kritenbrink, Senior Directorfor Asia at the White House.

It’s a pleasure to be back here at the ForeignPress Center and to see so many of our friends here today.

As was just announced, I’m going to brieflywalk you through the President’s upcoming program for his trip to Asia, his 11th tripto Asia.

I’ll try to situate his trip within ourbroader strategy, then I’ll turn to my colleague, Senior Director Christina Segal-Knowles, totalk about our goals in the context of the G20.

And then I’ll ask my colleague AssistantSecretary Danny Russel to provide framing comments on our overall strategy for the region.

Then, of course, we’ll open it up to yourquestions.

So the President will visit China and Laosduring this, as I said, his 11th trip to Asia as president.

He’ll arrive on Hangzhou on the afternoonof September 3 and he will go directly into a bilateral program with President Xi Jinping.

We expect that that program will carry intothe evening.

On September 4, the President may have anopportunity to conduct bilateral engagements with some of his G20 counterparts before beginningthe G20 program that afternoon.

The G20 program will run from September 4through 5 in Hangzhou, and again, I’ll let Christina address the specifics of our objectivesthere.

The President will then fly to Laos on theevening of September 5.

On September 6, the President will meet withLao President Bounnhang and attend a state luncheon that the president will graciouslyhold in President Obama’s honor.

Later in the day, President Obama will delivera speech about U.

S.

-Lao relations and his Rebalance strategy to the Asia-Pacific.

On September 7, the President will participatein the YSEALI Summit and attend an event to highlight our partnership to address unexplodedordnance in Laos.

In the evening, he will attend the East AsiaSummit Gala Dinner.

Finally, on September 8, the President looksforward to participating in the U.

S.

-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit.

I expect the President will hold a press conferenceat the end of the day to sum up the trip.

I also expect that the President will conductsome bilateral meetings over the next – over those three days while in Laos as well.

Let me say just a couple of comments aboutthe overall context for the visit.

I think that the President’s trip to Asia– again, his 11th trip and what we anticipate will be his final trip to Asia as president– represents yet another important element of our high-tempo engagement with Asia in2016.

Just this year, the President hosted all 10ASEAN leaders at Sunnylands; he conducted a historic trip to Vietnam and Japan; he hostedPrime Minister – Singapore Prime Minister Li Hsien Loong in Washington for an officialstate visit; and he will host Burma State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi later in September.

In addition, he’s been in regular contactwith his Asian counterparts through phone calls, letters, and meetings on the marginsof multilateral meetings, including the Nuclear Security Summit this spring.

I think the tempo of engagement reflects thePresident’s commitment to advance his Rebalance strategy.

Under the President’s leadership, the U.

S.

is investing in the Asia-Pacific in an unprecedented way.

We’re strengthening our cooperation withand among partners throughout the region.

We’re leading efforts to enhance security, expand prosperity, and reinforce a rules-based order, as well as advance human dignity.

We advance these objectives through cooperationwith treaty allies, deepened relations with emerging powers, and active participationin regional institutions – and all of these elements will be on display during the upcomingtrip.

Let me say just a couple of words about thebilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping.

During his visit to China, President Obamawill have an extended bilateral meeting with President Xi.

This will be their eighth face-to-face meetingand their fourth extended bilateral meeting building on their extended exchanges at Sunnylands, President Obama’s state visit to Beijing in November 2014, and President Xi’s statevisit, of course, to the United States last September.

The high frequency of leaders-level engagementwith Chinese counterparts has been a deliberate part of our strategy for building a more constructiveand productive relationship with China.

Leaders-level engagement is where problemsget solved, where important business gets done, and agreements on cooperation are reached.

We believe our methodical and consistent approachto China has yielded a demonstrable record of progress on our priority issues.

Over the past eight years, our work with Chinahas played a major role in supporting global economic growth, preventing Iran from obtaininga nuclear weapon, reaching the Paris Climate Agreement, ending the Ebola epidemic in Africa, supporting reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan, and strengthening nuclear security worldwide.

In all these areas, the United States andChina have worked to rally international efforts around a common purpose.

During this period, we’ve also more thandoubled U.

S.

exports to China.

We’ve attracted more than a tenfold increasein Chinese investment to the U.

S.

We’ve tripled the number of Chinese studentsstudying in the United States.

We’ve also more than tripled the numberof visas being extended to Chinese travelers since 2009.

We’ve also been reducing risks of incidentsbetween our militaries.

We’ve put in place mutually agreed rulesof behavior for naval and air operations, and established active channels of communicationto better manage risk.

Cumulatively, this progress has strengthenedthe foundation of the U.

S.

-China bilateral relationship.

It’s allowed space for us to candidly anddirectly address our differences, as well, without having those differences define theoverall relationship.

I can say with confidence that both governmentsand both leaders have grown increasingly comfortable with being exceptionally candid with one anotherin confronting our differences and areas of friction.

Whether on human rights and religious freedom, treatment of civil society, maritime issues, unfair economic practices, or cyber issues, we obviously have real differences with China.

We don’t paper over them.

We don’t pull punches in addressing them.

Both sides are committed to constructivelymanaging those differences even as we continue to work to expand practical cooperation.

So that will be the spirit, I think, in whichthe meeting between President Obama and President Xi in Hangzhou will be conducted.

I think the President will make clear, ashe has in the past, that the U.

S.

welcomes a rising China that is peaceful, stable, andprosperous, and that is a responsible player in global affairs.

The President will make clear his view thatwhen China is invested in helping to resolve regional and global problems, the United Statesand the world benefits.

At the same time, the President will emphasizeall countries need to play by the same rules, regardless of size or power, because that’sthe way everyone can compete and be treated equally.

He’ll also affirm that we believe countriesare better able to reach their full potential when they protect the universal rights ofall of their citizens.

The President will also underscore our determinationto ensure there’s a level playing field for U.

S.

firms in China.

So, in sum, I think the focus of that discussionwill be, again, on narrowing differences, managing them, and expanding practical cooperation.

And I’ll leave, of course, discussion ofthe G20 to Christina.

Let me say just a couple of things, if I could, about our objectives in Laos and at the East Asia Summit.

First of all, regarding Laos, the President’strip will be the first by a United States president to Laos.

It’s an opportunity to highlight the growingopportunities in U.

S.

-Lao relations.

We’ve been working with the Lao Governmentto expand cooperation on a broad range of issues, including building trade and economicties, science and technology, education and training, environment and health, legacy ofwar issues, and humanitarian cooperation.

We’re committed to being a reliable partnerfor Laos and building a practical partnership that’s based on common interests and mutualrespect.

Through our growing bilateral relationship, we’ll continue to address directly our shared and oftentimes difficult history.

Humanitarian cooperation, particularly achievingthe fullest possible accounting of Americans missing from past conflicts, has built trustand is a clear demonstration of Laos’ commitment to build a stronger bilateral relationship, and it will continue to obviously be a top priority for the United States Government.

We also understand the importance of buildingtrust by addressing legacies of war, particularly unexploded ordnance removal.

Over the past two decades, the United Stateshas invested over $100 million in Laos in UXO assistance.

We hope to build on that commitment duringthe President’s trip.

We also want to build a foundation for thefuture.

Our assistance priorities, in addition toUXO, are focused on education, health, and nutrition.

On the economic front, we were pleased tobe able to sign a trade and investment framework agreement earlier this year right after Sunnylands.

We expect the President’s trip will highlightfurther opportunities for trade and investment in Laos.

And finally, on the U.

S.

-ASEAN Summit andEast Asia Summit, I would say at the U.

S.

-ASEAN Summit the President is looking forward tosustaining the momentum that we generated at Sunnylands in February by expanding ourcooperation with ASEAN across our five priority areas.

The President will describe new investmentsthat we’re making under U.

S.

-ASEAN Connect, which is our overarching initiative to strengthenU.

S.

economic engagement with ASEAN.

And of course, the President looks forwardto coordinating with ASEAN leaders on the way forward on important regional issues suchas the South China Sea, especially the need to keep the region focused on peacefully resolvingdisputes in accordance with international law, lowering tensions, and invigorating diplomacy.

At the East Asia Summit, the President will, of course, coordinate with leaders on efforts to advance a rules-based order in East Asia– in the Asia-Pacific, and he will focus discussion on a number of priority issues, including North Korea’s illicit weapons and nuclear programs, South China Sea disputes, and issues such as human trafficking and irregular migration.

Thank you for your patience.

That’s my overview of the President’strip.

Now if I could turn it over to Christina totalk about the G20.

MS SEGAL-KNOWLES: Sure.

Thanks, Dan.

As Dan said, on September 4th and 5th, thePresident will participate in his 10th and final G20 meeting.

I think, to put this event in perspective, it’s helpful to look back at where the world economy was when the President participatedin his first G20 meeting in April 2009.

In that month alone, the United States lost800, 000 jobs.

Many of our economic indicators – the stockmarket – was on a trajectory that looked like it could be a repeat of 1929.

In fact, many of the indicators were worse.

And at the time, the G20 had only met at aleaders level once in the past.

The world needed a place where the world – theleaders of the world’s economies could get together and discuss coordinated actions torespond to the global financial crisis.

And so, in that context, the President decidedto elevate the G20 as the premier forum for international cooperation among major economies.

At the time, the G20 delivered.

It proved that through international cooperation, we can produce real results.

It helped to mobilize trillions of dollarsin global fiscal support.

It expanded the resources of the internationalfinancial institutions by a trillion dollars.

And it also started to put in place some ofthe safeguards, some of the financial regulations that could help to prevent crises like thisfrom occurring again.

However, as we look to the President’s finalG20 summit, it’s clear that the work of the G20 is not done.

Around the world, too many people don’tfeel like the global economy is working for them.

There’s a sense of economic insecurity.

And so the President will use his final G20summit to really press for the G20 to take a key role going forward in ensuring thatthe global economy delivers for families and workers.

He will specifically engage with leaders ofother major economies on how to strengthen the global recovery and to ensure the benefitsof globalization, digitalization, and integration are shared more broadly.

In particular, he will engage on ways to ensurethat the G20 economies are upholding high standards, protecting workers, and ensuringa level playing field and expanding opportunity.

I think in that context the President looksforward to a G20 leaders’ summit that will offer a number of opportunities to achievetangible results that will make a difference in the lives of people around the world, andit will be an important capstone for the Obama Administration and very much in line withthe objectives that we have had in the Asia Rebalance.

I’m looking forward to participating ina successful summit.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Thanks, Dan.

Thanks, Christina.

Christina began by referencing the first G20meeting in early 2009, and a few months later in that same year, President Obama’s firstyear in office, he also took a trip to Asia.

He visited Southeast Asia – Singapore; hehad multilateral meeting in the region, APEC; and he also visited Northeast Asia, includingChina.

So for a guy like me who’s been workingAsia policy for the last seven and a half years, this trip is a big deal.

And it is in many respects really bringingfull circle and tying together the investments and the accomplishments throughout PresidentObama’s two terms.

But I think more importantly, it is doinga lot – it will do a lot – to cement the foundation for constructive relations among the countriesof the Asia-Pacific.

And I, for one, believe that this will cometo be viewed as the most significant updating of the regional order that we have seen probablysince the Second World War.

It’s absolutely true that there’s unfinishedbusiness – ratifying TPP, building on the Law of the Sea tribunal decision to find apeaceful, lawful balance among – balance of interests among the claimants that protectsthe rights of all the parties, that protects freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce.

There’s unfinished business in connectionwith human rights and creating strong democratic institutions, with respect to expanding thecapacity of countries in the region to combat translational threats, whether it’s terrorismand violent extremism or human trafficking and unregulated, illegal fishing, and to safeguardthemselves against coercion.

But we’re working on all these things, andwe’re working on these things in each of the components of President Obama’s upcomingtrip.

And I think the framework for cooperationon these and other issues have been established in a way that cements an important role forthe United States in the life of the Asia-Pacific region and locks in important benefits forAmerican economic and security interests.

So, first and foremost in terms of our relationshipwith China, I think it shows the extent to which we’ve established a very strong foundationin the U.

S.

-China relationship that can both handle stress and can get things done, thingsthat are meaningful to both of us.

And you’ll see that in, as Dan just described, the candid, authentic, direct dialogue between our leaders.

You see it in the strong institutional mechanismsthat we have developed and advanced, whether it’s the Strategic and Economic Dialogueor others.

And you see it in progress in the many areasthat Dan alluded to where we have made important headway working together collaboratively.

And there are areas as well where we may notbe in perfect agreement, but where we can and have in many cases found ways to buildsignificant convergence in our views, whether it’s on the DPRK and the important UN SecurityCouncil Resolution 2270 and our work on nonproliferation, or whether it’s on cyber or developmentor counternarcotics or counterterrorism, law enforcement in APEC.

And there, of course, are areas, some of whichDan alluded to, like behavior with regard to maritime disputes in the South China Seaor the East China Sea; the treatment of foreign NGOs, reporters, business people, companies, academics; the constriction of political space, a crackdown on civil society; areas wherethere is friction.

But we are trying to find ways to work thingsthrough between us.

Secondly, and in the next leg of the trip, I think you’ll see the demonstration of the improvement and in many cases the transformationof the United States’ relationship with so many countries, nearly all of the countriesin the region.

That includes Burma.

That includes Vietnam.

That now includes Laos.

North Korea, frankly, is the only real outlierin that respect.

And when you look at Laos, what you see isthat we’re dealing in the first instance directly and honestly, constructively, withthe past.

We’re facing up to the legacy of war andworking hard on remediation and on rehabilitation for the affected people in the Lao PDR.

We’re very focused on the present, and theTIFA agreement that Dan alluded to is a great example of that.

The support that the U.

S.

is providing forLaos’ chairmanship of ASEAN is another.

And most of all, we’re focused on the futureand whether it is in the people-to-people programs, the nutrition – child nutrition, maternal nutrition programs, health, education, our Lower Mekong Initiative, food security, water security; or importantly YSEALI, the Young South East Asia Leaders Initiative, something that you will see highlighted in the President’s trip and that will be, Ithink, a growing and powerful legacy of the Rebalance, a determination to support thedevelopment of the people of the Lao PDR in a way that serves everyone’s interests.

I’ve been there quite a few times alreadythis year by myself, with Secretary Kerry and with others.

It comes through very loud and clear to methat the people and the Government of the Lao PDR welcome a robust and constructiverelationship with the United States.

We felt that vividly in Sunnylands, at theASEAN Leaders Meeting.

I certainly felt it in Secretary Kerry’stwo visits to Laos already this year, and I am confident it’s going to be visibleduring President Obama’s visit.

Thirdly, in the Lao PDR, of course, we’regoing to engage with ASEAN, and I think that sustained engagement with ASEAN has won theU.

S.

significant influence, a lot of friends.

It’s helped them promote ASEAN unity andcentrality sometimes in the face of real difficulty and pressure.

It’s – we’ve supported them as theyhave tackled some tough issues.

We’ve also helped ASEAN to build the EastAsia Summit into an important platform to grapple with the big strategic issues.

And look, that’s a long-term project.

But since President Obama’s very first participationin the East Asia Summit back in 2011 in Bali, we have seen this forum come a long, longway in addressing real issues, real issues like terrorism and so on.

So we expect this year the East Asia Summitto allow the leaders to center their discussions on issues like maritime security, the SouthChina Sea, the implications of the decision by the Law of the Sea Tribunal.

Our position on this set of issues has beeneminently consistent, and we continue to counsel restrain and care and prudence.

At the same time, we recognize that the tribunal’sdecision is binding on the parties.

And as we urge that the issues be managedand dealt with according to international law and peaceful diplomacy, the leaders willengage on the DPRK, as Dan said, and on nonproliferation.

And the submarine launch of a ballistic missileby the DPRK in direct violation of international law and its obligations under UN SecurityCouncil resolutions, as well as the spate of missile launches that preceded it, makesthis conversation all the more urgent.

This behavior, among other things, threatenscivil aviation and maritime commerce in the region, and it’s necessary for the leadersto engage very directly on that real threat.

Refugees, migrants, trafficking in personsis an issue that is on the minds of the leaders and on the agenda of the East Asia Summit.

The global humanitarian system is under tremendousstrain, as the President and Secretary Kerry have pointed out.

The needs outstrip the resources and the EASdiscussion on this set of issues will help set the stage for the important summits tocome later in the month in the UN General Assembly.

And countering ISIL and countering violentextremism and that false narrative is a major concern to the member-countries in EAS.

And the U.

S.

and our partners, including inASEAN, are collaborating in a number of ways, including on aviation and border security, on the counter-messaging center, which is being hosted by Malaysia and is now, I’mglad to say, up and running.

And lastly, on the other meeting between PresidentObama and the 10 ASEAN leaders – the second in 2016 – as Dan said, of course, we willbe building on the strategic partnership based on the principles reached at Sunnylands.

We’ll also be really drilling down and rollingout in more – with more [specificity] the launch of the U.

S.

-ASEAN Connect initiative.

We have centers in Jakarta, in Singapore, and [*Bangkok].

The U.

S.

-ASEAN Connect helps focus and helpsbring together private industry in areas like renewable energy, digital economy and innovation, women’s entrepreneurship, and credit facilitation.

I think that the Connect Initiative reflectsboth government’s but also the U.

S.

private sector’s interest in supporting ASEAN’scontinued economic integration and the success of the ASEAN economic community.

The one brief additional comment I would makeabout ASEAN is that when you take a step back, it is nothing short of extraordinary thata region as diverse as the 10 ASEAN countries, as burdened by the history of conflict andmistrust, as divided among the world’s great religions and divided as they are along ethniclines, as complicated as their geography is, the fact that these 10 countries have founda way to organize themselves and to create a mechanism that allows them peacefully toengage on a range of economic, political, social, and other issues, creates a phenomenalopportunity that President Obama has made it a point to recognize and to work from.

And I think that it’s very fitting thathis last visit to Asia will culminate in a meeting with the ASEAN leaders.

Thanks.

MODERATOR: So we’ll have time for a fewquestions now.

Please identify yourselves and your outlet.

If our colleagues in New York want to stepup to the podium, we’d welcome them.

Let’s start on the black shirt please.

QUESTION: My name is Ouenkeo Sousavanh.

I’m from Laos.

I’m working for Radio Free Asia.

I have three question to ask you.

The first question: What are the prioritizedwork points that the Laotian Government – Laos and U.

S.

have agreed to do together duringthe ASEAN Summit? The second is that U.

S.

have helped Laos toclear the UXO.

It means the war legacy.

But I haven’t heard U.

S.

talk about theyclear Agent Orange, because the U.

S.

helped Laos only the UXO clearance, but what aboutthe Agent Orange? And the third question is that I heard thatyou talk about the cooperation between China and U.

S.

regarding to the human right issue, but I haven’t heard that Laos and U.

S.

So what can be done to resolve the human rightviolation in Laos? Because as we know, that there is no developmentson the human rights practice in Laos.

Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Thanks.

Well, we hope to be able to announce someprogress and some deliverables in the bilateral sphere as well as to demonstrate the closecooperation between the U.

S.

and the Lao PDR as Laos chairs ASEAN.

And I think that the record of the Sunnylandsleaders’ meeting augurs very, very well for that, particularly inasmuch as the then-foreignminister, Mr.

Thongloun, has now been elevated to the position of prime minister and willbe chairing the ASEAN meetings.

As I mentioned, a big focus of the discussionin the U.

S.

-ASEAN meeting, which is what you asked about, will center around the U.

S.

-ASEANConnect initiative.

And I think that goes to the heart of whatthe Government of the Lao PDR has underscored is important to them, which is help from theUnited States in closing the development gap.

Now, we have longstanding programs in supportof the efforts to deal with the problem of unexploded ordnance in Laos.

As you mentioned, this is a very serious problemthat takes lives and limbs every year, and we are looking to bolster those efforts ina significant way as an outgrowth of President Obama’s visit.

Dioxin remediation is another dimension ofour efforts to deal with the legacy of the war and the aftereffects of that very fraughtperiod.

And it’s folded into a broader set of initiativeswhereby the United States seeks to support in a number of ways the development and promotionof health throughout the Lao PDR, including particularly for children inasmuch as stuntingin Laos is a particular problem.

With respect to human rights, this is a partof the agenda in every conversation that President Obama holds with foreign partners as wellas an important priority for Secretary Kerry and other members of the cabinet.

I accompanied Secretary Kerry, as I mentioned, to the Lao PDR early in the year, in February, and again in July.

In his bilateral meetings the Secretary wasvery clear about the importance that the United States and the international community puton respect for human dignity, respect for human rights.

Secretary Kerry raised specific points andhe, I, and our ambassador to the Lao PDR make it a point to engage actively with civil society.

I have no doubt that President Obama himselfwill of course engage directly with the Lao senior officials on this important topic, make clear that as our development programs already undertake to do, that we seek to helpimprove and strengthen the institutions that protect the rights of all citizens of thecountry.

And also I can virtually guarantee that whenyou watch the video of President Obama engaging with young leaders representing every cornerof ASEAN and every corner of the Lao PDR, you will hear from him the same upliftingand inspirational message that he conveys to young people everywhere that he goes.

MR KRITENBRINK: Thank you, Dan.

I agree with everything Danny said.

Can I just make two general points to supplementwhat Danny just said? I completely agree with Danny: I’m confidentthat the President will raise issues related to human rights and the importance of a freeand vibrant civil society while he’s in Laos.

The promotion of universal human rights remainsa central element of American foreign policy, and we continue to demonstrate that everyday, and I know just recently Ambassador Susan Rice hosted at the White House a number ofcivil society activists from across Southeast Asia just to demonstrate that fact again.

And so I completely agree with Danny – Ithink you’ll see those issues emphasized on the ground in Laos, as well.

I also wanted to underscore what Danny saidabout the importance of our cooperation with Laos in the context of the East Asia Summit.

I think we’re going to build on our positiveexperience at Sunnylands even though there’s been a leadership transition in Laos sincethen.

I think we’re very encouraged by the wayour two countries worked together for a successful Sunnylands outcome, and I’m confident thatwe’ll continue to work together for a successful East Asia Summit which will focus on a wholerange of important regional strategic issues, from issues like maritime issues, the KoreanPeninsula, but also including things like human trafficking and irregular migration.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: Let’s go to Jen in the greenjacket and then we’ll go to our colleague in New York.

Please keep your questions as brief as possibleso we can get more opportunities.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

I am Jennifer Chen with Shenzhen Media Group, China.

I’d like to know what will be the optimumoutcome of a bilateral meeting with – between President Xi and President Obama, especiallyin regards to the South China Sea dispute.

And during his meeting with Susan Rice, PresidentXi stated that China does not plan to challenge U.

S.

hegemony.

Might this encourage the U.

S.

to decreaseits involvement in China’s global interactions? Thank you very much.

MR KRITENBRINK: Could you repeat the lastpart? Might this cause the United States to — QUESTION: Might this encourage the U.

S.

todecrease its involvement in China’s global interactions? Thanks.

MR KRITENBRINK: Well, I’ll take an initialstab at your question.

First of all, thanks very much.

As I mentioned, the President very much looksforward to his eighth meeting with President Xi Jinping.

What I think you’ll see both as an outcomeof the meeting and I think in the content of the meeting itself is a very broad-rangingdiscussion between two leaders that are committed to advancing cooperation everywhere we canon a range of global issues, from global warming and climate change to counterterrorism tofurthering our nonproliferation goals to taking steps to strengthen the global economy.

And I think you’ll see that very clearlythrough the readouts of the meetings and hopefully from the deliverables that are announced afterthe meeting.

But at the same time, I’m confident thatour two leaders will – just as they’ve done before, just as I saw them do at BlairHouse last year and on the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit here – I’m confidentthey’ll have a broad-ranging, strategic discussion about how we approach one another, what our priorities are internationally and domestically, and importantly, not just onthe areas where we cooperate, but how is it that we’re going to manage our differences, our very real differences over issues like maritime issues, like cyber, like human rights.

And I’m confident that the President willhave an opportunity to explain what drives American foreign policy, what our objectivesare, and what we hope to see in our interactions with the Chinese.

You asked: What would an optimal outcome beon the South China Sea? Our policy on the South China Sea is clear.

We want all countries to advance their claimsand operate in accordance with international law, to commit to resolving disputes peacefully, and to ensuring that freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce are always protected.

And so that’s the optimal outcome that weseek, and I’m confident that there’ll be a very clear and candid exchange betweenour leaders on those issues.

You mention a final comment.

Let me just answer it this way: I thoughtthat Ambassador Susan Rice had a very productive and constructive series of meetings duringher recent trip to Beijing.

I thought her meeting with President Xi wasparticularly fruitful.

And the message that I took away from thequote that you mention from President Xi was that China is trying to make clear that itis not out to challenge the United States.

Similarly, President Obama, Ambassador Rice, and other senior leaders have made very clear we do not seek to contain China, we do notseek a confrontational relationship with China; rather, we seek the most constructive andproductive relationship with China possible, even as we continue to manage the many differencesbetween us.

I don’t know if either Danny or Christinawould like to add anything to that, but that’s my response to your question.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: Okay.

Let’s go to New York, please.

QUESTION: Hi.

Manik Mehta.

I am a syndicated journalist focusing on Asia.

(Inaudible) with regards to the comments madeby (inaudible) in regards to the creation of the U.

S.

-ASEAN Connect initiative.

Could you define the character of this initiative? Is it some kind of (inaudible) solution? Also, (inaudible)? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Thanks for thequestion.

The U.

S.

-ASEAN Connect Initiative is a mechanismthat is aimed at facilitating the communication between the U.

S.

private sector in the firstinstance and projects and opportunities in the 10 ASEAN countries, and to the extentpossible, vice versa.

What we’re finding is that notwithstandingthe formation of the ASEAN Economic Community and notwithstanding the great progress that’sbeen made on ASEAN connectivity and centrality, the fact is that each of the 10 ASEAN countriesoften operate independently and that it presents challenges for U.

S.

businesses who want tocontribute to the market in Southeast Asia, which is a huge and growing market, and whoalso want to harness that energy in their business in the United States, as well.

So in the initial stages, we are augmentingour embassy staff with well-trained economic specialists who can help with the matchmakingin these areas of focus that I mentioned.

And the countries that are positioned wellto create opportunities for U.

S.

investors and for U.

S.

businesses are the countriesthat will in the first instance make the most of the U.

S.

-ASEAN Connect, but we’re undertakingit in all 10 countries.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: Okay.

Let’s go to Andrei, please.

Front.

QUESTION: Thank you.

My name is Andrei Sitov.

I’m a Russian reporter with TASS, the Russiannews agency.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for doingthis, and thanks to our friends at the FPC for hosting this.

I obviously look at your upcoming visit toChina and to the region in a trilateral way – U.

S.

, Russia, and China.

So my first question is about American-Chineseside of that trilateral relationship.

And the question very simply is: How do youdefine that? How do you define China for yourself? Is it a rival, partner, or is it moving closerto being a partner or a rival? And then secondly, if you look at the wholetriangle, and which side of the triangle is the strongest at this point, and why? Thanks.

MR KRITENBRINK: I’d be happy to take thefirst part.

I’m not quite sure how to comment on thetriangle question.

How to define China? Look, I think our relationship with Chinais exceptionally important, one of the world’s most consequential.

It’s also one of the world’s most complexbilateral relationships.

I think it defies easy and simple definitions.

So as I said a moment ago, when we seek todescribe the U.

S.

-China relationship that we seek to build, I mentioned that we strivefor a constructive, positive relationship with China where we expand our cooperationon a number of shared global challenges.

At the same time, we recognize and are comfortablewith the fact that there exists a broad range of tensions in the U.

S.

-China relationship.

We don’t shy away from that tension or thosedifferences and we confront them very candidly.

So I think it’s very complex.

I think it incorporates both of those elements.

And I think, candidly speaking, I think youcould argue that our cooperation and our competition and differences with which we’re confronted, those are also growing simultaneously.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: To your secondquestion, I would say, look, during the Cold War there was much made of the construct ofa triangle or a triad and a lot of international relations theory PhDs were written on thekinds of questions that you’re posing.

Look, both China and the United States havebilateral relations with Russia.

We’re each engaging on a set of issues anda problem set.

Some are a function of sharing a border; someare a function of a strong opposition to the violation of borders.

The trilateral relationships, though, throughoutthe Asia-Pacific region clearly are emerging as a new and flexible form of political geometry.

And I think that one of the hallmarks of thelast eight years has been the very significant progress that has been made certainly fromthe U.

S.

’ perspective in our trilateral work with Japan and Australia, with Japanand the Republic of Korea, and other combinations, and we certainly believe that there are moreopportunities in the region to be developed through that kind of plural-lateral or mini-lateralengagement as well as in the important platform of the East Asia Summit, where the UnitedStates, China, and Russia are all represented.

MODERATOR: So we maybe have time for two morequestions.

Let’s go to the middle on this side, please, and then we’ll go to New York.

QUESTION: Thank you.

Martin Reznicek with Czech Television.

I have two questions for whomever wants topick them up.

The first is on TPP.

What is going to be the President’s messageto his Asia partners given the difficulties not only he but it is facing on the Hill herein the States? And the other question is would a potentialfailure of TPP negatively impact the talks on TTIP with Europe, especially in the lightof the latest remarks coming from Germany and France saying that the talks have, ineffect, failed? So to put it more bluntly, is TTIP dead? Thank you.

MS SEGAL-KNOWLES: So maybe I can start andthen Danny and Dan can jump in.

So, I think when it comes to TPP, the Administrationhas said that this is our number one legislative priority at this moment.

I think we’ve been very clear that we intendto – we believe that the TPP agreement has potential benefits for us economically interms of opportunities for U.

S.

businesses, U.

S.

workers, U.

S.

jobs.

We think it has a benefit in the foreign policyrealm.

It very much is a hallmark and part of ourstrategy of a Rebalance towards Asia.

And so I think we have been very clear thatwe are going to work to try to get this over the line with Congress, and we’re confidentthat by making that case we can get there.

So I would emphasize that our view is thatwe are going to push to get this done, and we are not giving up on TPP in any way, andthat’s the message the President will deliver to partners in Asia.

On TTIP, I have information from our negotiatingteams that are on the ground from as recently as today the work is ongoing.

The President has given a mandate to the negotiatorsto close negotiations this year.

That is what they are working on.

And we’ve heard various press statements– negotiations aren’t closed until they’re closed, and there’s often things said aroundnegotiations that may or may not reflect the state of play.

At least from our perspective, what we arehearing back from our team is that we’re continuing to work through a number of thornyissues, and they’re continuing to do the work the President’s asked them to do, whichis conclude by the end of the Administration and the end of this year.

MR KRITENBRINK: Could I just underscore that, and just to say, if you want, just one recent but I think powerful example of the Presidentspeaking to both the economic and the strategic importance of TPP and his commitment to gettingthe deal done is look at the, I think, very successful press conference that the Presidentheld with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the prime minister’s officialstate visit here.

I think the President was eloquent and forcefulon the issue and couldn't have been more clear, just to underscore Christina’s message.

MODERATOR: Let’s go to New York, please, and then one last one back here.

QUESTION: (In progress) …with the La Stampa.

Thank you very much for the briefing.

I have two questions concerning the G20.

The first is just G20 on migration.

In a letter sent to the leader of the G20, the President of the European Council and European Commission asked the G20 to put themigration issue at the center of the discussion.

What do you expect? What do you think the G20 could do in orderto address this issue? The second is a question related to the Appleissue that today was at the core of the discussion in Europe.

Do you think that the issue of tax immigrationcould be one of the issue that will be discussed at the leaders’ level at the G20 between, of course, the European Union and the United States? MS SEGAL-KNOWLES: So, I can take both of those, and certainly if others want to jump in.

So, in terms of the migration issues, clearlythis is an issue that is of utmost priority for the Administration.

It’s an issue that has received very highlevel of attention in the context of current challenges.

At the G20, there have been discussions inmultiple tracks and multiple work streams already on migration, and we expect that thatwill be something that continues during the summit.

I think the G20 is the premier forum for discussingeconomic cooperation, and there are many aspects of the migration challenges that we face thathave an economic angle, in particular when it comes to the response to the refugee crisisthat we are seeing not only in Europe but also in other regions of the world.

I think recent events have highlighted theneed to have a more stable and a more durable system that provides support for countriesthat are hosting refugees, that helps to transition from humanitarian assistance to long-termdevelopment assistance, that helps to make the global system more resilient to thesechallenges in the future.

So G20 leaders will discuss how do we movethat agenda forward.

There has already been a call on the financeministers and central bank governors’ discussions, and in their public statements for the WorldBank to look at the role that they might play in that space, so I expect that this willbe a topic of discussion.

And of course, for this administration andfor many countries around the world, we’re also looking forward to a summit that thePresident will host on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on refugees and migration, and we see the G20 as a good place to have a discussion that can continue into the sidelinesof UNGA in – later in September.

On the tax issues, as you – you’re probablyaware, tax and financial transparency, base erosion and profit shifting are issues thatG20 has really championed in the entire history since 2009.

I think we will continue to see leaders liftup the worth that’s ongoing in the context of the OECD work on base erosion and profitshifting.

We will continue to see a focus on what morecan be done to increase transparency when it comes to tax and look at how do we movethose issues forward in the G20 context.

So I think you can definitely expect to seetax issues on the agenda for this year’s summit.

QUESTION: Can we — MODERATOR: Let’s take the – let’s — QUESTION: (Inaudible.

) MODERATOR: Excuse me.

We’ll take that last question from hereplease.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

Donghui Yu with China Review News Agency.

I’m wondering what will be the style ofthe bilateral meeting between President Obama and President Xi.

It will be similar to that in Sunnylands and(inaudible) or it will be a relatively formal meeting between the two leaders? And secondly, how the Taiwan issue will bediscussed in bilateral meeting? Particularly, considering the situation thatthe cross-strait relations is in stalemate and this will be the last opportunity forthe two leaders to have a lengthy discussion before President Obama steps down.

Thank you.

MR KRITENBRINK: Well, thank you very muchfor your question.

On the style of the meeting, look, here’swhat I anticipate.

I anticipate that President Obama and PresidentXi will have the opportunity to sit down for multiple hours to have a conversation.

I anticipate, based on the model of past meetings, that there will both be an expanded meeting to talk about broader issues with a broadernumber of senior officials in the room.

There will probably be a smaller, restrictedmeeting to talk about some of the more difficult issues in the relationship, and then we anticipatethat they’ll have a discussion over dinner, as well.

Whether or not there may be some informalelement to the program, we’ll look forward to see what our Chinese hosts have in mind.

But the main priority, obviously, will beto ensure that our two leaders have enough time to have a very substantive and strategicconversation.

On the question of Taiwan: Certainly we’veaddressed that subject here many times before.

And as I’ve said here before, I anticipatecertainly that the cross-strait relations and the issue of Taiwan will be discussed, because it always is, and at a minimum I’m sure that our Chinese friends will raise theissue.

On that occasion, and as the President hasalways done in his meetings with the Chinese leadership, the President will underscoreour commitment to our “one China” policy based on both the three joint communiquesand the Taiwan Relations Act.

He’ll emphasize that the U.

S.

national interestis in seeing the continuance of stability across the strait.

And I think that the President will also underscorethe importance of ensuring that, as that stability is maintained, that both sides take stepsto contribute to that stability.

And so, I think it will be very straightforwardas it has been in the past.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSELL: May I — MR KRITENBRINK: Please.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSELL: — just add twopoints to that? MR KRITENBRINK: Please.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSELL: One is that theposition and the message of the United States in response to what we hear from Beijing onTaiwan isn’t a function of who the leader is in Taiwan.

It’s a function of our policy and our principlesand, as Dan said, encouraging the promotion of stable cross-straits relations in a mannerthat benefits and respects the wishes of people on both sides of the strait.

It remains a high priority.

But, secondly, we always encourage the expansionof Taiwan’s international space and its ability to participate in a constructive wayin organizations that don’t require statehood as a condition for membership or in otherappropriate formats because we know that the people of Taiwan have a lot to contribute, have a lot to give, and that’s true certainly in economic terms and we see that at APEC.

It’s also true in terms of security andsafety and health and a wide range of issues, including law enforcement, where we thinkthe contribution of the people of Taiwan is and should be welcome.

Thanks.

QUESTION: A quick follow-up? We have a quick follow-up.

MODERATOR: Please.

QUESTION: Will the President lobby PresidentXi on Taiwan’s behalf in terms of Taiwan’s participation in the ICAO meeting that’scoming up? MR KRITENBRINK: Let me just reiterate whatI said before.

I think – I anticipate the President willhave an opportunity to reiterate our longstanding position on cross-strait relations and whatthat means for both sides of the strait and the maintenance of that peace and stability.

And there are a number of elements to that, but I’m confident that that will be the core of his presentation and the discussionbetween the two leaders.

MODERATOR: That concludes our briefing.

We need to let our briefers go.

Thank you for joining us.

.

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