The relationship between the United States and Asia is of considerable importance to me. Therefore, I have attempted to ensure that American foreign policy further reaches out to the Asian region with the message that the U.S. is committed to social equality, economic development, and democratic governance in Asia.
I strive to assist and support my Asian-American constituents with concerns they may have about U.S.-Asia relations. Asian-Americans make up more than four and a half percent of the American population and have made a substantial impact on our nation's development. Indeed, the contribution of Asian Americans in our society is significant and cannot be underestimated.
In recent years, there has been increased economic interdependence between the U.S. and Asian Continent. More than one third of U.S. total trade is conducted in the region, and it ranks as our second-largest trading partner after Canada and Mexico. Countries such as Japan, which has become one the world's largest economies and leading aid donor, demonstrates the power of the Asian economy.
But with increased globalization and interdependence, we cannot ignore the deterioration of labor and environmental standards across the Asian continent. The environmental cost of industrialization often extends beyond physical borders and needs to be addressed if we are to protect our valuable ecosystems for future generations. In addition, the outsourcing of employment to regions in Asia has caused a host of social, economic and environmental problems. With this in mind, I will continue to push legislation to ensure that our trade policies with Asian countries are not to the detriment of international labor standards, the environment, or U.S. employment.
Although many countries in Asia are moving toward addressing human rights abuses, disappearances, torture, police abuse, and human trafficking still exist within the region. I have always advocated for the protection of human rights and will continue to make every effort to promote peace and democracy in the world and protect those who defend these principles.
Last year, I introduced a resolution to welcome the release of Burmese democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and honor her for her work in pursuit of human rights and democracy in Burma. The resolution also calls for the release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Burma, and urges the United Nations and governments around the world to strengthen sanction regimes against Burma.
On February 27, 2011, I introduced H.Res. 101, a resolution to express appreciation for the Republic of India as a democratic ally, key economic partner, and rising global power. The resolution also supports India's inclusion as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
The U.S.-Asian kinship is not exclusively based on ethnic ties or on economic interdependence. Since September 11, 2001, the threat of global terrorism has been a shared concern between the United States and the Asian continent. Like the United States, the Asian region is afflicted by terrorist organizations. The region has taken events of terrorism very seriously. Countries such as Singapore, the Philippines, Pakistan and Indonesia have taken positive steps in combating terrorism. Unfortunately, terrorist groups such as Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Abu Sayyaf are still present and active in Asia. The continent has three nuclear weapon states, a number of countries with ballistic missile capabilities, and two of the world's six largest defense budgets. Terrorism, coupled with the military buildup of the region, poses a real and imminent threat to Asia's population and the global community.
As the former Vice Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, I have a broad understanding of the terrorist threat in the region and have continuously monitored these countries. I will continue to be committed to combating the global threat of terrorism.
Above all else, the Korean peninsula, Taiwan Strait, Kashmir, and volatile border between Afghanistan and Pakistan make the region the locus of conflict flashpoints. As a result, I have urged the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region. In the past, I have repeatedly introduced legislation to call on North Korea and Iran to immediately fulfill their nuclear nonproliferation obligations and comply with international standards.
Given the current developments in North Korea and Iran, I am convinced that the solution to the ongoing crisis over the development of these country's nuclear and missile capability lies in conducting effective negotiations with other countries in the region from Saudi Arabia to Morocco to Tunisia, considering military force as our last resort. It is in the United States' and the rest of the worlds' common interest to learn from the lessons of the Cold War and prevent any nuclear arms race in the region.
I remain committed to strengthening long-standing alliances and opening up dialogue on both domestic and international issues, and providing support and assistance wherever it is needed in the region.