Good evening! It is delightful to see all of you.
I am really going to miss Ambassador Blake, Ibu Sofia and their wonderful daughters. This is a bittersweet night–a wonderful birthday party for our nation, but also the beginning of saying goodbye to a great Ambassador and great friends.
Bob has the privilege of working here in Jakarta with one of our most important partners in Asia. I, too, have the privilege of working in Jakarta in one of our most important partnerships in Asia, with ASEAN, a Community of Indonesia and its nine sister countries in Southeast Asia.
At 240, the United States is still a young nation, full of energy, focused on the future. That future includes ASEAN. ASEAN has helped keep the peace in Southeast Asia since its founding nearly 50 years ago. That foundation has allowed countries here to grow and prosper.
ASEAN’s role as an architect of the rules-based order will only grow more vital as challenges–and opportunities–in Asia increase.
The U.S. partnership with ASEAN is strong. I was lucky enough to attend the historic Special Summit in Sunnylands California in February. With the beautiful San Ysidro mountains as a backdrop, President Obama, President Jokowi and the other leaders of ASEAN discussed our shared vision of a closer knit Southeast Asia where all people enjoy security, prosperity and dignity.
They also talked about how important innovation and entrepreneurship are to that future, and President Obama announced U.S.-ASEAN Connect, a new framework for our economic engagement in the region, focused on innovation.
Innovation drives progress. Human innovation brought us the wheel, stone tools, woven fabric and more recently, engines, the Internet, smart phones and Go Jek.
These ideas, these technologies, have had a profound impact on our lives. They have shaped globalization and helped to bring more people out of poverty in the last 30 years than at any other time in history.
They are bringing us closer together—from my house in Jakarta, I skype with my brother in California and feel like I’m with him a hemisphere away.
But they are also driving us apart. All over the world we see the rise of intolerance as groups segment themselves and listen only to their own rhetoric.
ASEAN stands against this trend. It is integrating the communities of Southeast Asia so you can be stronger, together, so all can benefit from each others’ strengths and diverse cultures. The goal is an inclusive, innovative, sustainable Community that serves the people. This is a powerful, positive vision that the U.S. fully supports.
Realizing this vision will mean change. But if there is one thing we know about our time it is that change is a constant. Change will happen, but we can try to make sure it’s change for the better, for ever more people.
As President Obama has said: “the arc of the world does not bend towards justice, or freedom, or equality, or prosperity on its own. It depends on us, on the choices we make, particularly at certain inflection points in history; particularly when big changes are happening and everything seems up for grabs.”
Let us, the United States, Indonesia and ASEAN together grab our future and make it a better one for our children and grandchildren.