The contribution of Asian Nations workingAsian regionalism has an essential role to play in the future structure of Asia. It is already a source of growing strength to the individual Asian nations. Through joint action, their potential influence on the future of the region far exceeds that which they can exert acting individually.
In this connection the return of Indonesia, the fifth most populous country in the world, to full participation in the regional activities of the Asian states is a signal contribution.
Some years ago an unstable Indonesia was a source of considerable concern to its neighbors. It was in a continuing state of internal crisis and turmoil, and seemed a fertile ground for subversion supported from abroad. Today, under the leadership of President Suharto -who paid a state visit to the United States in May 1970-a stable Indonesia has emerged which has reordered its goals with a sense of national purpose and direction.
But the way ahead for Indonesia is still difficult. Although it possesses motivation and enlightened leadership, it still has not recovered from the upheavals of the past to the point where it can stand alone. For the United States the choice seems clear: to assist Indonesia in loving ahead, rather than to see it relapse into the frustrations and confusion of the past.
Accordingly, the United States has joined with other nations in the Inter-Governmental Group on Indonesia to provide the external resources necessary to complement Indonesia's own efforts. We have also helped Indonesia with a modest military assistance program intended primarily to help meet its internal security needs.
Indonesia has made good use of this assistance. Its exports have increased, its foreign exchange holdings have gone up and rice production has improved. Most dramatically, Indonesia has cut inflation from 650 percent in 1966 to less than 9 percent in 1970. Reflecting this improved internal situation, Indonesia has now reached a stage where it can look to matters of broader concern. With her population of 120 million and her wealth of resources, Indonesia's full participation in the regional groupings of the non- Communist states of Asia invests them with new weight and greater potential.
Thailand, with its central geographic position and the vigor of its diplomacy, has from the beginning played an essential role in the development of regional organizations. It has also manifested a spirit of cooperation in pursuit of common interests by providing significant support for the effort to repel North Vietnamese aggression in South Vietnam. At home the Thai have sustained their steady economic progress while coping with the additional burden of checking pockets of externally supported insurgency.
The Philippines has made a notable contribution to the "Green Revolution," especially in the development of miracle rice. It has also provided medical help to the people of other countries.
The scope and effectiveness of regionalism in Asia have now reached significant levels.
The creation, with the United Kingdom, of the Five Power Arrangement- for the defense of Malaysia and Singapore is an impressive example of Asians looking to their own security needs with their own resources. It also illustrates dramatically how important a vigorous Australian and New Zealand role will be to the future stability of the region.
SEATO is a regional security organization which has been in existence for many years and which has contributed significantly to the maintenance of a peaceful environment. It provides a framework in which nations both inside and outside the region can work together effectively for a common purpose. SEATO also is increasingly engaged in making a nonmilitary contribution to regional stability through fostering economic and technical cooperation.
Similarly, the ANZUS Pact has played a useful part in helping to preserve security in the Pacific region.
In May of 1970 the foreign ministers of eleven Asian states, representing- 350 million people, convened in Djakarta to work out a joint policy toward the Cambodian crisis, clearly showing their determination and their ability to act in common in the interest of peace in Southeast Asia.
The Asian Development Bank, to which the U.S. has contributed only 20 percent of the capital, has become an established and major source of capital and technical assistance to meet Asian needs. In 1970 the bank had its most active year to date, approving fifty-three projects and increasing its lending by 150 percent. I hope that the Congress will give early approval to the proposal for an additional $100 million U.S. contribution to a special fund permitting the bank to finance projects which, while meritorious, require more generous terms than those now extended.
Political differences notwithstanding, the effort continues to develop within a regional framework Southeast Asia's single major resource-the Lower Mekong Basin. This project has an almost immeasurable potential for the well-being of the countries of the basin, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Along with a large number of other non-Asian states, we continue to participate actively in this massive scheme to harness the hydroelectric, irrigation and transportation potential of one of Asia's greatest rivers. Its promise for transforming the life of the area is at least equal to the impact of TVA in our own country.
The Asian countries have created and are now profiting from separate and active intergovernmental programs in education, agriculture, transportation, communications, public health, medicine and engineering.
The regional political associations are also showing vitality. The Asian and Pacific Council (ASPAC) is a forum of increasing importance for the joint consideration of Asia-wide problems, for it includes most of the nations of the area and stretches from Japan and Korea in the north to Australia and New Zealand in the south. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a more tightly knit group including Indonesia a, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Significantly, the resumption of diplomatic relations be. between the Philippines and Malaysia, which had been suspended over a territorial dispute, was arranged under ASEAN auspices and announced at an ASEAN Ministerial meeting.
More important than the regional organizations themselves-and they are certainly important-is the new spirit which impels Asian leaders to work in concert. As in our own country, there is a new generation in Asia, with a new attitude of mind. Their leaders are impatient with the divisions and enmities of the past, and are not prepared to permit interference with the cooperation needed in the present.
Active regionalism, then, is one of the new realities of Asia. Its vigor is one of the guarantees of the influence of Asia's smaller states in the future political structure of the region. The strength which combination gives enables them to move toward such a structure with confidence in their stability and security.