SECRETARY CLINTON: Tonight, as we hold our Third Strategic and Economic Dialogue – and I don’t know whether our interpreter, Jim, will do that –
INTERPRETER: Yes (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay.
INTERPRETER: Okay. Speak loudly.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. We wanted to take an opportunity to thank someone who has been instrumental in American-Chinese foreign policy for more than three decades. Jeff Bader joined the State Department East Asia Pacific Bureau in 1979. Is that right?
MR. BADER: Seventy-seven.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Seventy-seven. (Laughter.) Actually, at that time, he was working for Dick Holbrooke, which got him off to a very good start.
So since 1977, Jeff has worked with our Chinese friends in so many important issues, including being the lead negotiator on China’s accession to the WTO. And we wanted to recognize those years of service which just recently concluded with his departure from the White House, where he was in charge of our East Asia Pacific relations there. He has been succeeded by his very able deputy, Dan Russell.
Before I formally present him with this award, the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award, I asked State Councilor Dai Bingguo if he wished to stay something.
COUNCILOR DAI: (Via interpreter) It’s my great pleasure to stand here today. I think this is a very special day for Mr. Bader because he’s going to get what I think is the highest award for a civil servant. I would like to congratulate you on that. I think all the Chinese friends present today will also offer him our congratulations. We haven’t actually brought an award with us, but I’m sure you will always be having this award on your chest. That is the award of your service to China-U.S. cooperation and friendship.
Mr. Bader has been working on China-related issues for over 30 years, and I’ve known him personally for many years and I have very good memory of each of our meetings and conversations. Today, we are here to thank him for his extraordinary contributions over the last 30 years or more to deepen the mutual understanding and the friendship of the Chinese and American people, and to promote development of China-U.S. relations.
And he’s been working doubly hard for the last two and three years also in the White House, and in that capacity he has helped to make possible two major events in our relationship, President Obama’s visit to China and President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States. These two visits would not have been so successful without the role he played in them. I’m sure when you write up this memoir in the future, many people will be eagerly waiting to read these two visits. I think among the many Americans I’ve met, he is really skillful at both defending American national interests and, at the same time, promoting this relationship with China. Although he will be departing from frontline diplomacy from the White House, I’m sure there will be many people like him who will carry on his work.
Finally, I’d like to wish him good health and happiness and a good family life, and I am sure he will continue to contribute to the growth of the China-U.S. relationship and he will have chances to return to Beijing and other parts of China. We welcome you (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, so now it’s my great honor to present this award to you on behalf of the United States and Secretary of State. (Laughter.) And we expect you to wear this at all times. (Laughter.) And of course, this plaque, which in some very small way, the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award is presented to Jeffrey A. Bader for long and distinguished service to the United States in shaping, implementing, and promoting U.S. foreign policy in the Asia Pacific region in a way, as the state councilor said, that enhanced and strengthened U.S. standing in this strategically important region (inaudible). Thank you so much.
(The Award was presented.)
MR. BADER: (In progress) presidents and ten secretaries of state. These last three years have given me more joy and more pride working for President Obama and Secretary Clinton than the preceding 27 years in many, many respects. It’s a – just a thrill for me to receive this award from someone I admire so much and for whom I have so much affection.
My job was to coordinate U.S. policy towards China, and so it’s all the more fitting that the entire spectacular team of people responsible for U.S. relations in Asia are here tonight – Secretary Clinton, Tom Donilon, Kurt Campbell, Jim Steinberg, Secretary Geithner, Lael Brainard, Admiral Willard, Danny Russell, Evan Medeiros. Coordinating this group, no job could be easier when you have such talent.
It’s especially fitting and very (inaudible) to me that Secretary Clinton and Kurt Campbell have chosen to arrange this on the eve of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue with my Chinese friends here, with State Councilor Dai, with Ambassador Zhang, with Vice Premier Wang, (inaudible), and so many other dear friends – (inaudible) – because it sounds like a cliché, but it’s the truth; the U.S. and China are going to determine the fate of the 21st century. The 21st century will be a century of peace and prosperity if the U.S. and China get their relationship right. And if we don’t, it will not. And that requires that we each not only defend our national interests, as State Councilor Dai said, but that we put ourselves in the shoes of the other and look at the world and look at each other through the other’s eyes.
And finally, I’d note this event comes not only on the eve of the Third Strategic and Economic Dialogue, but very fittingly, happily for me, on the day after my 16th wedding anniversary with the love of my life and inspiration (inaudible).
So thank you again, Secretary Clinton, and thank you all for coming. (Applause.)