Remarks by U.S.

Senator Susan Collins World Economic Forum Bangkok, Thailand May 30, 2012 *** Thank you for inviting me here to Bangkok and the World Economic Forum. I am honored to share the stage with such an impressive group of panelists. Forums like this are so important to the maintenance of positive international relationships, and afford the opportunity for thoughtful consideration of some of the key security questions that confront our World. Any discussion of international security must begin from the common starting point of adherence to the rule of law. When nations fail in their beliefs, behavior, or conduct to adhere to these rules, the fragile gains of collaboration and negotiation are quickly undone and instead contribute to heightened tension and instability. It is for that reason I am troubled by some of China’s recent actions. From my vantage point as a member of the U.S. Senate, China at times is behaving outside the bounds of international norms and standards of conduct, and is engaging in a policy of provocation both in the South China Sea near the Scarborough Shoal, and in the newer environment of cyberspace. We must realistically confront China’s behavior and work to include them in as a fully functioning partner in the community of nations, recognizing the importance of balanced relationships with the countries of the Pacific. China’s excessive maritime claims in the South China Sea, its refusal to acknowledge freedom of navigation rights, and its insistence on using both paramilitary law enforcement vessels and fishing boats to stake its claims have manufactured a crisis where none should exist. Likewise, China’s preference to deal unilaterally with ASEAN member nations in negotiating resource claims is unhelpful. In response, ASEAN must stand together, just as it did in the formulation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. That agreement can be the starting point from which to build an enduring regional solution to ocean rights that is both in accord with law and guarantees freedom of navigation to every nation that borders or travels the South China Sea. Much has been made of President Obama’s announcement of a “new” American orientation to focus on the Asia-Pacific, the so-called “pivot” to the Pacific. Contrary to what is implied by the President’s remarks, there has been no shift in policy; the United States has never left Asia. We will always stand behind our friends and allies in the Asia-Pacific region. I also believe that our collective future in Asia will be defined in part by the maritime environment, the resources that lie under the ocean floor, and the trade that travels on its surface.

It is for that reason that I have continually pressed for a strong Navy capable of ensuring freedom of the seas and strategic deterrence, and a strong Navy capable of conducting complex operations against any possible threat, even as it works collaboratively in response to disasters like the Indian Ocean tsunami or the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daichi. Yet the maritime environment is quickly being matched in importance and as a source of instability by the cyber domain. Cyberspace really is the modern ocean; it is a rising avenue of economic activity, with fiber optic cables replacing maritime trade routes as the sinews of global commerce. And just like at sea, I am concerned that China’s worrisome behavior is being mirrored in cyberspace, irrespective of international norms. Cyber espionage and cyber theft directly threaten the vitality of the world economy. While American intelligence officials have been cautious about publicly linking the Chinese government to the massive number of cyber attacks on the United States, ranging up to six million probes every day, our intelligence sources can pinpoint the origin of many of these attacks to systems located in China. The scale and scope of these attacks suggest prosecution of a coordinated and systematic cyber campaign. Entities within China are responsible for extensive illicit intrusions into U.S. government computer networks and theft of U.S. intellectual property. I welcome input from other nations’ experience in this area, and the United States would welcome a collaborative approach to cyber defense with ASEAN and other partners. As an international community, we must create a coordinated response to cyber intrusions that will protect online activity, our critical infrastructures, and electronic commerce, just as the United States welcomes collaboration at sea to ensure freedom of the seas and maintenance of global trade.