Dan Aum
Senior Director for Public Affairs
Director, Washington, D.C. Office

Engaging Asia 2008

U.S. Strategic Interests, Priorities, and Policy Tools

On May 22, 2008, NBR hosted “Engaging Asia: U.S. Strategic Interests, Priorities, and Policy Tools,” bringing together senior policy leaders and experts to discuss the need for greater U.S. engagement with this increasingly vital region of the world.



Richard J. Ellings, President, The National Bureau of Asian Research


Rick Larsen, U.S. Congress

Asia’s Changing Economic and Security Landscape: Implications for U.S. Policy


Kevin Brady, U.S. Congress


Admiral Dennis C. Blair, U.S. Navy (ret.), inaugural holder of The John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies at NBR

Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, Senior International Partner at WilmerHale


Ambassador Lee Tae-sik, Embassy of the Republic of Korea

Ambassador Chan Heng Chee, Embassy of Singapore


Eric Altbach, Vice President, Economic and Trade Affairs, The National Bureau of Asian Research

U.S.-Asia Relations: Challenges and Opportunities


Ambassador Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary, East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State


Richard J. Ellings, President, The National Bureau of Asian Research


Though the distinguished participants approached U.S. engagement in Asia from a variety of perspectives, several common themes emerged. There was consensus on the increasing importance of the Asia-Pacific region both to the United States and to the world—with issues and interests more closely intertwined than ever before—as well as on the need for U.S. policymakers to invest greater attention and resources to Asia and to develop a more integrated strategy.

Reminding the audience that the United States is a Pacific nation, several speakers argued that policymakers should fully appreciate the depth and breadth of U.S. economic and security interests in Asia. Speakers also urged the next administration to build on existing, proven mechanisms, such as the Strategic Economic Dialogue with China, in order to foster more effective cooperation with Asian nations, rather than creating entirely new structures.

Some of the speakers also expressed concern about the rhetoric of the campaign season, and many remarked that rising protectionism threatens to damage not only U.S. economic interests but also long-term security relationships in the region with countries like South Korea.

Finally, there was general agreement that the U.S.-China relationship is particularly important and deserves increased U.S. attention.

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