Kurt M. Campbell Sees Transitions in Asia as “Moments of Great Delicacy” and Opportunity

January 31, 2013  • Institute Contributor

As the leadership in China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Myanmar, and even the US State Department has recently shifted, former Aspen Strategy Group Director and current Assistant Secretary of State Kurt M. Campbell returned to the institute for a roundtable discussion. The New York Times‘ David Sanger moderated the session entitled “US Asia Policy: The Path Ahead”. With an audience of nearly 50 foreign policy experts, including the Honorable Jane Harman, The Brookings Institution’s Kenneth Lieberthal and James Mann from the Johns Hopkins Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Campbell offered his insights for the future course of diplomatic relations in Asia.

Stressing these many transitions as opportunities, however diplomatically delicate they may be, Campbell explained the State Department’s “strong desire to see responsible, engaged leadership on each side to rise above these local tensions and recognize how important a collegial, strong relationship between Japan and China is, not just to Asia, but for the world.” 

Watch, below, as Campbell details the efforts being made for early high-level engagement already taking place between US, China, Japan, and Korea.

As the assistant secretary spoke of North Korea’s recent threats of a third nuclear test, as seen in the clip below, he explained that the State Department has been in close contact with Beijing to send “a very clear message of determination…to attempt to discourage North Korea. …Our message generally to China and elsewhere is, ‘Please demonstrate very clearly that steps that are contemplated could have a deeply negative consequence in terms of creating an environment where it’s difficult to pursue or resume the kind of diplomacy we all hope for.’”