At the Asia Society Washington’s 23 annual awards dinner, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen accepted the Public Policy award on behalf of the U.S. military.
In his address to the more than 20 diplomats present from Asian nations, Mullen cited the importance of strengthening ties and collaboration and expressed concern over the recent tensions between the United States and China.
“From the bedrock alliances we have with the Republic of Korea, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, to burgeoning relationships we foster with emerging partners like Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, … we are duty bound and will remain so to dedicate our might to mutual defense,” Mullen said. “Those who need our help may depend upon it, [and] those who question our sincerity, need not.”
The relationships will be especially vital to military efforts in Afghanistan. Mullen described these alliances as the most important thing in the current military presence in Afghanistan and explained that through the strengthening of these relationships, success is definite.
On China, Mullen expressed his concern over its new tensions with the United States. He described his view on the matter has shifted from confusion to unease.
““[China’s] recent rejection of military-to-military contact is particularly disappointing, because it removes the opportunity to listen and to learn from and about each other,” Mullen said. He referenced to China’s new investments in military capabilities.
He added, “A gap as wide as what seems to be forming between China’s stated intent and its military programs leave me more than curious about the end result.”
Mullen also expressed a feeling of optimism of the future that strong ties with Asian nations could bring. While he believes it will not completely establish regional stability, Mullen said, “But I do believe that in the attempt — in the pursuit of stability — there is goodness and, perhaps, great effect.”
The award ceremony is annually held to promote better understanding and relationships between the United States and Asia.