Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 7, 2006

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What Direction for the U.S. in East Asia?
Leach Schedules Wednesday Oversight Hearing 

BACKGROUND - East Asia remains integral to the national security interests of the United States, even as issues relating to terrorism and the Middle East often appear to preoccupy senior American policymakers.  East Asia today is characterized by a rapid shift in the distribution of power, symbolized by the rise of China, the challenge of North Korea associated proliferation concerns, increased nationalist sentiment, unresolved territorial and political disputes, the region’s growing role as a driver of the international economy, severe competition for energy, and fragile political regimes.  As one study notes, these issues could be “a recipe for considerable instability,” which, if handled poorly, “could lead to catastrophic outcomes on par with the worst moments of the 20th Century.” Indeed, the U.S. arguably has greater strategic interests in Asia now than it did in Europe before the First or Second World Wars.  America forward deploys nearly 100,000 troops in the region.  Five of the seven mutual defense treaties involve East Asian countries, among them Japan, Korea, Australia, Thailand, and the Philippines.  Two-way trade with the region in 2005 totaled a little over $870 billion.  Total cumulative U.S. investments in the region were close to $400 billion at the end of 2004, and five of the top 10 foreign holders of U.S. treasury securities were East Asian countries.  Nonetheless, some critics, including former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, accuse the Administration of strategic neglect.  In this context, the purpose of the hearing is to review key issues about American policy toward the region, including: (1) America’s response to China’s rise; (2) prospects for maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula and across the Taiwan Strait; (3) management of alliance relations; (4) growing strategic rivalry between China and Japan; (5) how to enhance ties with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); and (6) whether to supplement America’s reliance on bilateral alliances with new and inclusive multilateral arrangements (unlike the recent “East Asia Summit,” which excluded the U.S.).  In addition, the Subcommittee members hope to review the volatile political situation in the Philippines and Thailand.   

WHAT:                             Subcommittee Oversight Hearing: 
                                          East Asia in Transition:
Opportunities and Challenges for the United States

                                          Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific
                                          U.S. Rep. James A. Leach (R-IA), Chairman

WHEN:                             2 p.m., Wednesday, March 8, 2006

WHERE:                           2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESS:                        The Honorable Christopher R. Hill,
                                          Assistant Secretary,
                                          Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs,
                                          U.S. Department of State.

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