Thank you, Vice Foreign Minister SONG Tao for your kind introduction.
Your Excellencies, Vice Minister of Supervision YAO Zengke, Deputy Director Cui Hairong, National Bureau of Corruption Prevention, Director Ric Cusick and Deputy Director Jane Ley, U.S. Office of Government Ethics (USOGE), and all distinguished APEC delegates and invited international guests, on behalf of both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we thank you for your active participation and leadership this week in Beijing on ways to move forward the commitment made by APEC Leaders to improve integrity across the Pacific region.
The U.S. Department of State would also like to extend our deep appreciation to the senior leadership of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, Minister Ma Wen, and the Ministries of Supervision and Foreign Affairs for their warm hospitality and for co-hosting with the United States this important APEC anticorruption workshop.
I also want to thank Andy Boname and the American Bar Association (ABA) for working with the United States, China, and other partners to help organize this event.
As Secretary Clinton has noted on numerous occasions: no economy alone can solve today’s complex challenges. It requires creative partnerships and joint responsibility based on common interests, shared values, and mutual respect. The fight against transnational corruption is one of these challenges.
We hope that Presidents Obama and Hu can advance the work we have done this week in Beijing and work with other APEC Leaders at next month’s Summit in Singapore to ensure that anticorruption remains a priority in the Asia Pacific region and to safeguard the integrity of our economic and political systems which are critical to long-term peace and prosperity.
With strong APEC leadership – especially through the work of the APEC Anticorruption and Transparency (ACT) Task Force – we are sending a strong message internationally that economies in the Asia Pacific region are backing up their commitments to fight corruption, undertake responsible governmental functions with the highest level of ethical conduct, and promote market integrity.
The United States is committed to work with our APEC partners to develop communities of integrity that can nurture institutions to fight corruption, improve accountability and transparency, and promote more vibrant governance systems across the Pacific.
Moreover, by implementing the APEC Santiago Anticorruption Commitments, strong integrity initiatives will help our efforts to deny safe haven to corrupt public officials and close our financial systems to keep corrupt individuals from enjoying the fruits of their illicit activities.
Another cornerstone of our commitment within APEC has been our desire to implement the principles of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
As we also prepare for the Third Conference of State Parties of the UNCAC in Doha in early November 2009, we hope that APEC economies can support the adoption of a credible implementation mechanism of review that is effective, transparent and inclusive, as well as support strong asset recovery measures to stem illicit outflows in financial safe havens and the return of stolen assets by kleptocrats and criminals alike.
As our APEC ACT Task Force Chair from Singapore noted, we also applaud our APEC partners for developing good ideas for strong anticorruption deliverables this year including ways for all economies to navigate the governance risks, vulnerabilities, and illicit threats across APEC markets by promoting good governance, combating corruption, improving transparency and accountability and dismantling illicit networks. The United States applauds Mr. Soh Kee Hean (Director General) and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau of Singapore (CPIB) for providing the strategic vision in our ACT Task Force work program in APEC this year.
On issues related to the illicit trade across the Pacific and on dismantling illicit networks -- increasing concerns in APEC -- preventing corruption is also a key tool to combating emerging transnational criminal threats. Today, criminals and other illicit actors imperil the functioning and legitimacy of the state when they harness public institutions to facilitate their illicit activities and create a culture of impunity. In the most extreme cases, they subvert and undermine state functions.
To gain an advantage in our battle against transnational criminals and other illicit actors, we must root out corruption at every level of public trust – in security, law enforcement, and criminal justice sectors as well as in economic and business sectors.
As colleagues have underscored these past two days, integrity does matter. Poor governance and illicit activities across the borders and communities of APEC have the real potential to not only undermine our overall APEC agenda on trade and investment but also adversely impact our common security and economic health. Effective integrity systems help to ensure accountable governance and honest public institutions.
As experienced by the United States and China alike, along with other economies, piercing the web of corruption is not an easy task. Checks and balances, a free and open media to investigate and report corruption, asset disclosures for public officials, strong integrity systems, and effective oversight and law enforcement mechanisms are needed to stamp out corruption.
We also must continue our efforts in combating bribery of foreign government officials and ensuring a business environment free of corruption.
As Co-Chair of the U.S.-China Anticorruption Working Group of the Joint Liaison Group for Law Enforcement Cooperation, I want to applaud the commitment of the Chinese Government over the years for working constructively with the United States and other partners on ways to prevent and combat corruption and as a strategic area of dialogue and engagement throughout the Asia Pacific region, and as a model of cooperation in our comprehensive bilateral relationship.
From our collaboration in the Bank of China case (“Kaiping” branch) to our joint efforts through the APEC anticorruption workshops that we have successfully co-sponsored in recent years in both Shanghai in 2006 and in Beijing this week, we have demonstrated that our shared commitment to build a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive U.S.-China relationship includes the vital area of combating corruption in our systems while strengthening integrity and promoting responsible governance across the region.
In closing, the United States applauds our APEC partners for working hard to strengthen integrity and capacities to safeguard political and economic systems across our respective economies.
Together we can encircle the path of development and prosperity with preventive measures that yield fruitful integrity dividends.
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