By Carlo Muñoz - 03/11/13 06:56 PM EDT
"President Obama has been clear about the future that the United States seeks . . . when it comes to the Asia-Pacific, the United States is 'all in,'" National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon said during a speech at the Asia Society in New York on Monday.
However, the recent rise of Islamic extremists groups in North and West Africa have prompted some inside the beltway to question whether a strategic shift to the Pacific is the right move.
On Monday, Donilon pushed back on such assertions, arguing Asia's influence on the world stage will only increase in the coming years.
According to Donilon, nearly half of all economic growth and subsequent global politicall influence will emanate from regional Pacific powers over the next five years.
That growth, he added, "is fueling powerful geopolitical forces that are reshaping the region" including China’s ascent as a world power, North Korea's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and India's expanding influence in South Asia and beyond.
"These changes are unfolding at a time when Asia’s economic, diplomatic and political rules of the road are still taking shape," he added. "The stakes for people on both sides of the Pacific are profound."
Recognizing that sea change of global influence based in the Asia-Pacific region, the Obama administration has taken great strides to solidify the United States' position in that corner of the world, according to Donilon.
"Perhaps most telling [of] this rebalance is reflected in the most valuable commodity in Washington, the President’s time," he said.
The Obama administration officials have held bilateral talks with each regional partner in the Pacific, as well as fully participated in the multilateral summits held by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Specifically, the White House has engaged "at an unprecedented pace" with Washington's counterparts in China, holding formal and informal talks with Beijing on a slew of regional security issued, according to Donilon.
"The United States welcomes the rise of a peaceful, prosperous China. We do not want our relationship to become defined by rivalry and confrontation," Donilon said, reiterating the administration's line on the Asian powerhouse.
"There is nothing preordained about such an outcome," he said regarding a possible boiling over of tensions between Washington and Beijing.
China took a step forward toward that burgeoning relationship with the United States, backing Washington on new United Nations sanctions against North Korea's nuclear program.
In response, Pyongyang on Monday officially nullified the 1953 armistice deal with the United States that ended the Korean War. Since North and South Korea are still technically at war, it remains to be seen if the decision will result in conflict breaking out on the peninsula.
However tensions continue over Beijing's continued efforts to launch cyberattacks against American government and commercial networks.
In February, security firm Mandiant released a report on Chinese cyberwarfare capabilities, claiming elite military unit of Chinese hackers have been working to break into U.S. networks from their headquarters in Shanghai.
Weeks after the Mandiant report, Senate intelligence committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said classified intelligence documents supported the claims made by the security firm.
Despite those reports, Donilon said the United States continued cooperation with Beijing and its influence in Asia is and will be key to maintaining stability among the regional Pacific powers.
"The region’s success . . . and the United States’ security and prosperity in the 21st century, still depend on the presence and engagement of the United States in Asia," he said. " We are a resident Pacific power, resilient and indispensable."