Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US-Asia Pacific Relations

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Coordinator: Sarah Wang. For methodology, click here.

This resource will track statements, developments, visits and other interactions in US-Asia Pacific relations given or undertaken by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. 

To view quotations, debriefs of interactions with Asia Pacific leaders, and media sorted by topic, scroll down or use the links below.

Travel to Asia Pacific Countries Asia Pacific Leaders Asia Pacific Allies & Partners
China/Taiwan Human Rights & Democracy North Korea
South China Sea Southeast Asia/ASEAN Summits - APEC, East Asia (EAS), & US-ASEAN
Trade & Investnment    

To view the positions of President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of Defense Mattis, Secretary of Commerce Ross, and Secretary of State Tillerson on various issues in US-Asia Pacific relations, click here.

To view quotations, interviews, and policy documents given by and interactions with Asia Pacific leaders undertaken by President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of Defense Mattis, and Secretary of Commerce Ross use the links below.

President Donald J. Trump Vice President Mike Pence Secretary of Defense James Mattis
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Jr.    

To examine Asian reactions to ongoing developments in US-Asia relations and the US 2016 Presidential election, click here.

To explore previous quotations, views on Asia Pacific issues, and other connections to Asia from President Trump, Vice President Pence, and other candidates in the 2016 Presidential Election, click here.

Travel to Asia Pacific Countries

  • Philippine Flag. Image: flaticon Thailand Flag. Image: flaticon Malaysia Flag. Image: flaticon Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia in August 2017.
  • Japanese Flag. Image: http://www.flaticon.comSouth Korean flag. Image: http://www.flaticon.comChinese flag. Image: www.flaticon.com Japan, South Korea, and China in March 2017. 
  • Australia flag. Image: Freepik New Zealand flag. Image: Freepik Australia and New Zealand in June 2017. 

Asia Pacific Leaders

  • On August 6, 2017, Secretary Tillerson issued a joint statement with his counterparts from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar during the 10th Ministerial Meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative to continue their partnership on increasing sustainable development of the region. 
  • On August 6, 2017, Secretary Tillerson, in partnership with Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kano, issued a Trilateral Strategic Dialogue Ministerial Joint Statement committing their three countries to continued partnership in the Asia-Pacific region. 
  • On June 27, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.
  • On June 26, 2016, Secretary Tillerson met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 
  • On June 21, 2017, Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mattis met with China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi and People's Liberation Army (PLA) Chief of Joint Staff Fang Fenghui in Washington, DC for the first-ever Diplomatic and Security Dialogue (D&SD).  
  • On June 6, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English in New Zealand to commend the strength of the US-New Zealand partnership.
  • On June 5, 2017, Secretary Tillerson, along with Secretary Mattis, attended the annual Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in Sydney, Australia with Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Minister for Defence Marise Payne. During their opening remarks and press availability they all affirmed the importance of the US-Australia relationship to maintaining peace and security in the Asia Pacific at large. 
  • On May 18, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with South Korean Special Envoy to the United States Hong Seok-hyun to reaffirm the United States' defense commitments to South Korea in the face of threats from North Korea. 
  • On May 16, 2017, Secretary Tillerson spoke with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida over the phone about North Korea's latest missile test on May 13th. 
  • On May 4, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers at the State Department, commemorating 40 years of US-ASEAN partnership. They discussed regional concerns such as tensions in the South China Sea and on the Korean peninsula and looked for ways to further US-ASEAN ties through economic cooperation. 
  • On April 28, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi while both attended a United Nations Security Council meeting, which Secretary Tillerson chaired, on how countries could work together to denuclearize North Korea
  • On April 10, 2017 on the outskirts of the G-7 Summit in Italy, Secretary Tillerson met with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Minister Kishida supported the United States' recent military strike against Syria and both agreed that China needs to play a larger role in checking North Korea's aggression in the region. 
  • On March 22, 2017, Secretary Tillerson hosted the "Global Coalition-Working to Defeat ISIS" meeting in Washington, DC. The Coalition, made up of 68 member countries, "are united in common cause to defeat ISIS through a robust approach, including working by, with, and through local partners for military operations; supporting the stabilization of territory liberated from ISIS; and, enhancing international cooperation against ISIS’ global objectives through information sharing, law enforcement cooperation, severing ISIS’ financing, countering violent extremist recruitment, and neutralizing ISIS' narrative." Asian member countries of the Coalition include: Afghanistan, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan.
  • On March 22, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan at the State Department to discuss US-Singapore relations. 
  • On March 21, 2017 Secretary Tillerson met with Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman at the State Department. 
  • On March 18, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi during his first trip to the Asia Pacific region. During these three meetings, Secretary Tillerson and his counterparts emphasized the opportunities for future cooperation between China and the United States following the historic opening under President Nixon 40 years ago, including on countering the North Korean threat. 
  • On March 16, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida in Japan during his first trip to the Asia Pacific region. They discussed the US-Japan alliance and working to counter the threat posed by North Korea. To watch Secretary Tillerson's press conference with Foreign Minister Kishida, click here
  • On March 10, 2017 Secretary Tillerson met with the ambassadors of the 10 ASEAN member states.
  • On March 3, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar to discuss H-1B visas and other issues of concern in the US-India bilateral relationship.
  • On February 28, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi to discuss areas of mutual concern including facilitating continued economic engagement and North Korea. 
  • On February 22, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop at the State Department to discuss areas of mutual concern such as the ongoing coflicts in Iraq and Syria.  
  • On February 21, 2017, Secretary Tillerson spoke on the phone with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi concerning North Korea and potential areas of cooperation. 
  • On February 17, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the outskirts of the G-20 Summit in Bonn, Germany. They discussed the North Korean threat and agreed to continue working towards a productive bilateral relationship. 
  • On February 16, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida in Bonn, Germany during the G-20 Summit. Together they issued a joint statement condemning North Korea's recent ballistic missile test and agreed to enhance trilateral security cooperation against the North Korean nuclear threat.
  • On February 15, 2017, Secretary Tillerson spoke with Indian External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj. During their phone call, they agreed to continue working to build greater cooperation between the United States and India, including defense, energy, and the economy.
  • On February 10, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the US Department of State. During the meeting, they reaffirmed that the Senkaku Islands are covered by Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Treaty. 
  • On February 9, 2017, Secretary Tillerson reaffirmed the United States' "strong relationship" with its longtime partner Singapore during a phone call with Singaporean Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan. 
  • On February 7, 2017, Secretary Tillerson spoke with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se. During each phone call, Secretary Tillerson emphasized the United States' commitment to with each country and the necessity of cooperation on areas of mutual concern such as the South China Sea and North Korea.

Asia Pacific Allies & Partners

  • "On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I offer congratulations to the Republic of Indonesia as it celebrates its National Day and 72nd year of independence on August 17th. The United States and Indonesia share much in common as two dynamic and diverse democracies and G20 economies. We continue to reaffirm and reinforce our strategic partnership, as demonstrated most recently in a meeting between President Trump and President Joko Widodo at the G20 summit, and during Vice President Pence’s visit to Jakarta last April. We look forward to deepening our cooperation in support of peace, security, and prosperity in the region and for our two peoples." [Source] Indonesia National Day. August 16, 2017
  • "On behalf of the United States of America, congratulations to the people of the Republic of Korea as you celebrate your national day on August 15th. On the anniversary of your independence, we also congratulate the people of the Republic of Korea on the election of President Moon Jae-in. We reaffirm the ironclad alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea and honor our strong and historic people-to-people ties. This holiday also marks the bond our nations share in our support for democratic values, as we stand together to advance peace and security. We look forward to the continued alliance between our nations as we move forward. I send our best wishes to the people of the Republic of Korea as you celebrate this occasion." [Source] Press Statement on Republic of Korea National Day. August 14, 2017
  • "So our two countries [United States and Malaysia] really have a lot in common. It’s a really important relationship to the U.S. both from the standpoint of regional security issues, strong mil-to-mil relationships, but obviously very important and significant economic relationships – a lot of U.S. direct investment in this country, a long history of U.S. direct investment in this country, and a large U.S. American population that makes their home here. And you know all of them and where they are and what they do because you have to help take care of them and their needs while they’re here in Malaysia as well. But also, we’re working hard to attract more Malaysian investment back home in the U.S., and I know many of you worked in that area in that regard as well to promote opportunities for Malaysian investors and Malaysian business back in the U.S., and we want to continue to expand and grow that as well." [Source] Remarks to US Embassy Staff in Malaysia. August 9, 2017
  • "The U.S.-Thailand relationship, I think as you know, it is a historic one. We want to continue to grow that relationship, even in its ups and downs, which has been the history of this country. We have been treaty partners for over 184 years, and we've been allies for over 60. So next year the U.S., I think most of you know, will mark 200 years of relations with Thailand. And I think that's significant because elections are scheduled here in Thailand next year, as well, to return the country to civilian control. We certainly hope those elections proceed as scheduled. And I think it'll be meaningful that we're celebrating 200 years at a time when the country is returning to civilian control." [Source] Remarks to US Embassy Staff in Thailand. August 8, 2017
  • "Singapore is a longstanding, valued partner and friend in one of the most dynamic regions in the world. For more than 50 years, the United States and Singapore have enjoyed a close economic and security relationship based on our shared vision for stability and prosperity. We look forward to further strengthening our partnership to advance mutual interests and to address shared concerns in the years ahead." [Source] Remarks on Republic of Singapore National Day. August 8, 2017
  • "On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, we offer congratulations to the peoples and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as the ASEAN Secretariat, on the organization’s 50th anniversary on August 8th. Since 1967, ASEAN has made remarkable strides in maintaining peace across Southeast Asia, accelerating economic growth, and improving the lives of the citizens of its 10 member states. We are also proud this year to celebrate 40 years of close ties between the United States and ASEAN. Our partnership is growing as we address shared challenges such as terrorism, trafficking in persons, and maritime security. Substantial trade and investment between the United States and ASEAN creates jobs for our peoples. Programs like Fulbright and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative build enduring people-to-people ties. In April, Vice President Pence met with ASEAN permanent representative and the ASEAN Secretariat, and announced that President Trump will travel to Manila for the U.S.-ASEAN and East Asia Summits later this year. This is a testament to the value the United States places on our partnership with ASEAN and, as a Pacific nation, our engagement with the broader Asia-Pacific region. We congratulate ASEAN on its 50th anniversary and look forward to continuing our partnership and friendship with the people and governments of Southeast Asia and the ASEAN Secretariat to advance peace, stability, and prosperity for all." [SourcePress Statement on ASEAN Day 2017. August 7, 2017
  • On August 6, 2017, Secretary Tillerson issued a joint statement with his counterparts from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar during the 10th Ministerial Meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative to continue their partnership on increasing sustainable development of the region. 
  • On August 6, 2017, Secretary Tillerson, in partnership with Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kano, issued a Trilateral Strategic Dialogue Ministerial Joint Statement committing their three countries to continued partnership in the Asia-Pacific region. 
  • On June 27, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.
  • On June 26, 2016, Secretary Tillerson met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • "This relationship between our two nations [United States and New Zealand] – I know, as I think many of you know, we are walking up to a 75-year anniversary of the landing of troops in World War II. And this was a deployment, important deployment point for many of our troops who were fighting alongside one another to achieve the victory of World War II. [...] And as the prime minister said but I want to say it myself, we are deeply appreciative of New Zealand’s troops in the Middle East and this really important role they’re playing to train security forces. As we liberate areas from – that have been under ISIS control, the first actions is to secure the area, so that the local citizens feel safe about returning to their homes and beginning the long process of rebuilding not just their towns but also their lives. And having security forces that have been well-trained and understand how to conduct themselves in this environment is vitally important to the ongoing success and restoration of liberated areas, and we are very thankful for the contribution made by New Zealand troops in the region." [Source] Press Briefing with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English. June 6, 2017
  • On June 6, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English in New Zealand to commend the strength of the US-New Zealand partnership.
  • "We also share with Australia a keen interest in ensuring our economic policies advance prosperity at home as well as abroad. Australian companies employ almost 100,000 Americans, and American companies in Australia employ about 335,000 Australians. Good trade policies mean good jobs for both of our peoples." [Source] Press Briefing following the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN). June 5, 2017
  • "Australia and the U.S. will work together to support democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, and that includes defending the rules-based order which the Asia Pacific region depends upon. We are certainly grateful for Australia’s commitment to defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria, wherever else they may show their face, and certainly their face is appearing in the region. Countering violent extremism, stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, and shutting down propaganda arms online remains a shared goal for both the United States and Australia." [Source] Press Briefing following the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN). June 5, 2017
  • On June 5, 2017, Secretary Tillerson, along with Secretary Mattis, attended the annual Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in Sydney, Australia with Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Minister for Defence Marise Payne. During their opening remarks and press availability they all affirmed the importance of the US-Australia relationship to maintaining peace and security in the Asia Pacific at large. 
  • On May 18, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with South Korean Special Envoy to the United States Hong Seok-hyun to reaffirm the United States' defense commitments to South Korea in the face of threats from North Korea. 
  • On May 16, 2017, Secretary Tillerson spoke with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida over the phone about North Korea's latest missile test on May 13th. 
  • "Obviously, throughout Asia we’ve got a lot of work do with ASEAN nations and re-solidifying our leadership with ASEAN on a number of security issues but also trade issues and the South China Sea, strengthen relations with Australia and New Zealand – really important partners with us on a number of counterterrorism fronts. And so throughout the region those engagements are underway. And the President has committed to make the trip to Vietnam and to the Philippines for those meetings this fall, and I think that’s going to be very important that he is going, and we’ll be going in advance, obviously, to prepare for all of that." [SourceRemarks to State Department Employees. May 3, 2017
  • "So as all of you clearly understand, when we came in to the State Department, the administration came in, was sworn in, immediately confronted with a serious situation in North Korea. Now, the prior administration, as all of you know, President Obama told President Trump this was going to be your greatest threat that you’re going to have to manage, and he was right. So it was – it’s right on the doorstep. And so it got immediate attention. It was the first policy area that we began to develop in terms of what is our overarching strategic approach and how do we want to execute against that. In evaluating that, what was important to us and to me to understand was, first, where are our allies? And so engaging with our allies and ensuring that our allies and we see the situation the same – our allies in South Korea, our allies in Japan. And then, secondly, it was to engage with the other regional powers as to how do they see it. And so it was useful and helpful to have the Chinese and now the Russians articulate clearly that their policy is unchanged; they – their policy is a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. And of course we did our part many years ago. We took all the nuclear weapons out of South Korea. So now we have a shared objective, and that’s very useful, from which you then build out your policy approaches and your strategies." [Source] Remarks to State Department Employees. May 3, 2017
  • On April 10, 2017 on the outskirts of the G-7 Summit in Italy, Secretary Tillerson met with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Minister Kishida supported the United States' recent military strike against Syria and both agreed that China needs to play a larger role in checking North Korea's aggressions in the region. 
  • On March 22, 2017, Secretary Tillerson hosted the "Global Coalition-Working to Defeat ISIS" meeting in Washington, DC. The Coalition, made up of 68 member countries, "are united in common cause to defeat ISIS through a robust approach, including working by, with, and through local partners for military operations; supporting the stabilization of territory liberated from ISIS; and, enhancing international cooperation against ISIS’ global objectives through information sharing, law enforcement cooperation, severing ISIS’ financing, countering violent extremist recruitment, and neutralizing ISIS' narrative." Asian member countries of the Coalition include: Afghanistan, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan.
  • On March 22, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan at the State Department to discuss US-Singapore relations. 
  • On March 21, 2017 Secretary Tillerson met with Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman at the State Department. 
  • "Well, Japan is — because of the size of their economy — they are our most important ally in the region, because of the standpoint of both security issues, economic issues, stability issues. So that’s not anything new. That’s been the situation now, for decades. South Korea, similarly, is an important partner relative to stability of northeast Asia. Japan has a larger footprint in the Asian Pacific region so, obviously, those relationships are where our common interests are aligned. The attention on South Korea early in this administration has been dominated by the actions of North Korea, and that’s taken a lot of careful time and attention. Japan, also, is obviously an important element of that trilateral relationship." [Source] Interview with Independent Journal Review's Erin McPike. March 18, 2017
  • On March 17, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se during his first trip to the Asia Pacific region. They discussed the US-Korean alliance and working to counter the threat posed by North Korea. 
  • On March 16, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida in Japan during his first trip to the Asia Pacific region. They discussed the US-Japan alliance and working to counter the threat posed by North Korea. To watch Secretary Tillerson's press conference with Foreign Minister Kishida, click here
  • On March 10, 2017 Secretary Tillerson met with the ambassadors of the 10 ASEAN member states.
  • On March 3, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar to discuss H-1B visas and other issues of concern in the US-India bilateral relationship.
  • On February 22, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop at the State Department to discuss areas of mutual concern such as the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria.  
  • On February 16, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida in Bonn during the G-20 conference. Together they issued a joint statement condemning North Korea's recent ballistic missile test and agreed to enhance trilateral security cooperation against the North Korean nuclear threat.
  • On February 15, 2017, Secretary Tillerson spoke with Indian External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj. During their phone call, they agreed to continue working to build greater cooperation between the United States and India, including defense, energy, and the economy.
  • On February 9, 2017, Secretary Tillerson reaffirmed the United States' "strong relationship" with its longtime partner Singapore during a phone call with Singaporean Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan. 

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) as to whether the US would respond militarily to a violation of Article 5 under the US-Japan Security Treaty.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) on President Trump's comments that allies such as Japan and South Korea should acquire their own nuclear weapons.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on whether the extrajudicial killings being undertaken in the Philippines under the Duterte administration human rights violations. 

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) on whether he would call the extrajudicial killings being undertaken in the Philippines under the Duterte administration human rights violations.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) on if he were given information by State Department operatives that confirmed the actions undertaken by the Duterte administration in the Philippines were human rights violations that that would determine his ruling on the matter. 

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) on whether he agreed with President Trump's statement concerning Japan and South Korea acquiring nuclear weapons of their own.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) on what his policies towards North Korea would be, including sanctions, aiding US allies, and working with China.

China/Taiwan

  • "In China, the government tortures, detains, and imprisons thousands for practicing their religious beliefs. Dozens of Falun Gong members have died in detention. Police – policies that restrict Uighur Muslims’ and Tibetan Buddhists’ religious expression and practice have increased." [Source] Remarks on the 2016 International Religious Freedom Annual Report. August 15, 2017 
  • "The object of our peaceful pressure campaign is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. has no interest in regime change or accelerated reunification of Korea. We do not seek an excuse to garrison U.S. troops north of the Demilitarized Zone. We have no desire to inflict harm on the long-suffering North Korean people, who are distinct from the hostile regime in Pyongyang. Our diplomatic approach is shared by many nations supporting our goals, including China, which has dominant economic leverage over Pyongyang. China is North Korea’s neighbor, sole treaty ally and main commercial partner. Chinese entities are, in one way or another, involved with roughly 90% of North Korean trade. This affords China an unparalleled opportunity to assert its influence with the regime. Recent statements by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as other regional and global voices, have made clear the international community holds one view regarding North Korea’s provocative and dangerous actions: They must stop. Pyongyang must stand down on those actions. China has a strong incentive to pursue the same goals as the U.S. The North Korean regime’s actions and the prospect of nuclear proliferation or conflict threaten the economic, political and military security China has worked to build over decades. North Korea’s behavior further threatens China’s long-term interest in regional peace and stability. If China wishes to play a more active role in securing regional peace and stability—from which all of us, especially China, derive such great benefit—it must make the decision to exercise its decisive diplomatic and economic leverage over North Korea." [SourceJoint statement with Secretary of Defense James Mattis for The Wall Street Journal "We're Holding Pyongyang to Account." August 13, 2017
  • "I did have the opportunity yesterday for an exchange of views with our Chinese counterparts, and we really went through a bit of reflection on the relationship since the first summit between the two presidents at Mar-a-Lago, the creation of the four high-level dialogues between our two countries, two of which are already actively meeting – the Diplomatic and Security Dialogue and the Economic and Trading Dialogue. Both of those are very active. The two remaining dialogues that we hope to convene in the next several weeks are the Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Dialogue and the Cultural or People-to-People Dialogue. I think all four of these dialogues, which are conducted at a very high level, are really advancing our two countries’ understandings of the nature of this relationship between the U.S. and China and how we should strive to strengthen this relationship so that it benefits both of our countries from an economic prosperity standpoint but also benefits the world in terms of maintaining a secure world absent of conflict." [SourcePress Availability in Manila, Philippines. August 7, 2017
  • [Source] State Department Press Availability. August 1, 2017
  • "Today, I join those in China and around the world in mourning the tragic passing of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died while serving a lengthy prison sentence in China for promoting peaceful democratic reform. Mr. Liu dedicated his life to the betterment of his country and humankind, and to the pursuit of justice and liberty. My heartfelt condolences go out to Liu’s wife Liu Xia and all of his loved ones. I call on the Chinese government to release Liu Xia from house arrest and allow her to depart China, according to her wishes. In his fight for freedom, equality, and constitutional rule in China, Liu Xiaobo embodied the human spirit that the Nobel Prize rewards. In his death, he has only reaffirmed the Nobel Committee’s selection‎." [Source] State Department Press Statement. July 13, 2017 
  • On June 21, 2017, Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mattis met with China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi and People's Liberation Army (PLA) Chief of Joint Staff Fang Fenghui in Washington, DC for the first-ever Diplomatic and Security Dialogue (D&SD). 
  • "With respect to China’s activities in the South China Sea, we share the same view that freedom of navigation both of the waters but also the airways is vital to global economic prosperity. It’s vital to the growth of economic prosperity in the region, and anything that threatens that threatens not just this region but the entire world’s economic prosperity. So we are, I think, of one mind with many others in the region as well in conveying to China that these actions they’re taking to build islands and, more alarmingly, to militarize these islands threatens the stability, the stability that really has served China as well or better than anyone in terms of China’s ability to grow its economy. It’s been this very stable environment that has existed. These actions of theirs threaten that stability, and we ask that they cease those activities." [SourcePress Briefing with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English. June 6, 2017
  • "With respect to North Korea and China’s activities in the South China Sea, we had a very good discussion about that today. We have called on all nations that have any type of relations, economic activity with North Korea, to join us in putting pressure on the regime in Pyongyang to cause them to rethink the strategy and the pathway they’re on with the development of their nuclear weapons program. All the regional partners, including China, have reaffirmed without question their commitment to a de-nuclearized Korean Peninsula. And so now I think the question is: How do we work together collectively to bring Pyongyang to the table, to have a discussion about that future, a different future than the one they have charted thus far?" [SourcePress Briefing with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English. June 6, 2017
  • "This year marks the 28th anniversary of the Chinese government’s violent suppression of a peaceful protest that took place in and around Tiananmen Square. We call again on China to make a full accounting of those killed, detained, or missing due to the events of June 4, 1989. We urge China to cease harassment of family members seeking redress and to release from prison those who have been jailed for striving to keep the memory of Tiananmen Square alive. The United States views the protection of human rights as a fundamental duty of all countries, and we urge the Chinese government to respect the universal rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens." [Source] Statement on the 28th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square. June 4, 2017
  • And then if I pivoted over to China, because it really took us directly to our China foreign policy, we really had to assess China’s situation, as I said, from the Nixon era up to where we find things today, and we saw a bit of an inflection point with the Sochi – with the Beijing Olympics. Those were enormously successful for China. They kind of put China on the map, and China really began to feel its oats about that time, and rightfully. They have achieved a lot. They moved 500 million Chinese people out of poverty into middle class status. They’ve still got a billion more they need to move. So China has its own challenges, and we want to work with them and be mindful of what they’re dealing with in the context of our relationship. And our relationship has to be one of understanding that we have security interests throughout northeast Asia and security interests throughout the Pacific, and we need to work with them on how those are addressed. So that gets to the island building in the South China Sea, the militarization of those islands, and obviously, we have huge trading issues to talk with them about. [...] So we outlined four major dialogue areas with China, and we’ve asked them to bring people who report directly to the decision-maker, which is President Xi. So for the first time, we are seeking and we – so far it appears we will get people at the politburo level and at much higher levels of the government within China to participate in these dialogues so we can reframe what we want the relationship to be and begin to deal with some of the problems and issues that have just been sitting out there kind of stuck in neutral for a while. So it is a – it’s a much narrower – as we make progress, those things will result in working groups where we can get after solving these things. [...] So that’s kind of the new approach we’re taking with China, is elevate, let’s kind of revisit this relationship, and what is it going to be over the next half century. I think it’s a tremendous opportunity we have to define that, and there seems to be a great interest on the part of the Chinese leadership to do that as well. They feel we’re at a point of inflection also. So that’s China." [Source] Remarks to State Department Employees. May 3, 2017
  • "So many people are saying, well, gee, this is just the same thing we’ve tried over and over – we’re going to put pressure on the regime in Pyongyang, they’re not going to do anything, and then in the end we’ll all cave. Well, the difference, I think, in our approach this time is we’re going to test this assumption, and when the – when folks came in to review the situation with me, the assumption was that China has limited influence on the regime in Pyongyang, or they have a limited willingness to assert their influence. And so I told the President we’ve got to test that, and we’re going to test it by leaning hard into them, and this is a good place to start our engagement with China. And so that’s what we’ve been doing, is leaning hard into China to test their willingness to use their influence, their engagement with the regime in North Korea. All of it backed up by very strong resolve on our part to have a denuclearized peninsula with a commitment to our security alliances on the peninsula and in the region to our important allies Japan and South Korea." [Source] Remarks to State Department Employees. May 3, 2017
  • On April 28, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi while both attended a United Nations Security Council meeting, which Secretary Tillerson chaired, on how countries could work together to denuclearize North Korea
  • "[...I]t depends on how they [China] view those strategic ambitions and whether those present a threat to stability for the rest of the world or not. And I think a specific example, obviously, is their activity towards island-building in the South China Sea and in particular their militarization of those islands. We have had very, very frank conversations and exchanges with the Chinese around these activities and our view that this destabilizes the area of the South China Sea rather than creates stability." [Source] Interview with Steve Inskeep of NPR. April 27, 2017
  • "Well, I think we need to understand one another and understand that China is on a pathway of continuing to emerge with their own people in terms of providing a quality of life to their own population. They’ve made enormous progress over the last 10 to 15 years – 500 million Chinese have moved out of poverty into middle-class status. Our understanding of them – and I think they need to have an understanding of us – is that we do not seek to constrain their need to continue their economic growth and to continue to help their people enjoy a better quality of life. As they are pursuing that, though, they have to do that in a way that supports stability around the rest of the world as well." [Source] Interview with Steve Inskeep of NPR. April 27, 2017
  • "Well, it’s extraordinarily important, first to just the broader relationship of where U.S.-China relations are going to find themselves over the next two to three to four decades. I think we are at a bit of an inflection point in the U.S.-China relationship. Now, North Korea is a threat that presents itself right up front to both of us, and in our conversations with the Chinese, and we have been very clear to them – I was on my initial trips to Beijing and then in the visit of President Xi to Mar-a-Lago, the President and I were able to be very clear to them – that things have to change in North Korea and we need their help doing that. What China is beginning to reevaluate is whether North Korea is any kind of an asset to them or whether North Korea themselves and the regime have become a liability to China’s own security – because, as I’ve said to my Chinese counterparts, those missiles go in all directions." [Source] Interview with Steve Inskeep of NPR. April 27, 2017
  • "We know that China is in communications with the regime in Pyongyang. They confirmed to us that they had requested the regime conduct no further nuclear test; and in fact, we were told by the Chinese that they informed the regime that if they did conduct a further nuclear test, China would be taking sanctions actions on their own. So I think the Chinese seem to be willing to work with us. We hope they are. We believe that they are an important element to us causing the regime to take a different view towards future talks." [SourceInterview with Bret Baier of Fox News. April 27, 2017
  • "We obviously had direct talks with the Chinese during President Xi’s visit to Mar-a-Lago. I first spoke to the Chinese on my first trip to Beijing to make clear to them that we were unwilling to negotiate our way to the negotiating table. And I think that’s the mistakes of the past – that the regime in North Korea has to position itself in a different place in order for us to be willing to engage in talks. We are asking a lot of the Chinese. I think in the past, the assumption has been the Chinese would only take limited action. We’re going to test that assumption. We’re going to test their willingness to help us address this serious threat that it’s not only one to the region and to us, but is becoming a threat to China themselves. And so we’re asking that they evaluate the situation. But I think what’s different is we have expanded the network of calling on others to fully implement the sanctions under the UN Security Council resolutions, which have never been fully implemented. So we’re holding people accountable to implementing these sanctions, and we are broadening our call to other nations to put pressure on Pyongyang, because Pyongyang’s missiles can now go in any direction. And this is a threat that is now moving out of the region and it’s becoming global." [Source] Interview with Bret Baier of Fox News. April 27, 2017
  • "I can tell you that President Trump, President Xi had very extensive discussions regarding the serious situation in North Korea. They met for quite some time one-on-one to discuss North Korea, and there was a full range of options that were discussed between the two leaders. President Xi expressed agreement that the situation has reached a new level of seriousness and threat. He expressed the view that he wanted to be supportive in terms of causing the regime in Pyongyang to change its view around the future need for those weapons. China has expressed on multiple occasions and they reaffirmed it in our discussions with us here in Mar-a-Lago that their policy is unchanged, and that is for a denuclearized Korean peninsula. [...] . It’s only been a couple of weeks since we announced our policy changes and have called on the Government of China to take additional steps. We expect that they will. They have indicated that they will. And I think we need to allow them time to take actions." [Source] Interview with George Stephanopoulos of APC This Week. April 9, 2017
  • "I can-- I can tell you that both the president-- presidents had extensive discussions around the dangerous situation in North Korea. They had a very lengthy exchange on-- on the subject yesterday morning. I think it was a very useful and productive exchange. President Xi clearly understands, and-- and I think agrees, that the situation has intensified and has reached a certain level of threat that action has to be taken. And, indeed, the Chinese, even themselves, have said that they do not believe the conditions are right today to engage in discussions with the government in Pyongyang.  And so what I think we’re hopeful is that we can work together with the Chinese to change the conditions in the minds of-- of the DPRK leadership. And then, at that point, perhaps discussions may be useful. But I think there’s a shared view and no disagreement as to how dangerous the situation has become. And I think even China is beginning to recognize that this presents a threat to even-- to-- to China’s interests as well." [Source] Interview with Face the Nation following Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting with President Trump. April 9, 2017
  • "High on the list of our [ President Trump's] priorities [for his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping] is an economic relationship that is fair on both sides. Today will be a time to exchange candid views on the nature of the US-China relationship, and we look forward to additional discussions in the future on topics of mutual importance. [...] To that end, we will pursue economic engagement with China that prioritises the economic well-being of the American people." [Source] Remarks to reporters at West Palm Beach Airport as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for his meeting with President Trump. April 7, 2017
  • "We are hopeful that China will find ways to exercise influence over North Korea's actions to dismantle their nuclear weapons and their missile technology programs. Whether it's using their authority on the UN Security Council or utilising new levers of power, China can be part of a new strategy to end North Korea's reckless behaviour and ensure security, stability, and economic prosperity in Northeast Asia." [SourceRemarks to reporters at West Palm Beach Airport as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for his meeting with President Trump. April 7, 2017

On April 6, 2017, Secretary Tillerson emphasized the importance of a strong US-China relationship during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the United States to meet with President Trump. A readout of his taped remarks below can be viewed here

  • "No one issue defines the relationship between the U.S. and China. We will be talking about a broad range of issues when I’m in Beijing. But the threat of North Korea is imminent. And it has reached a level that we are very concerned about the consequences of North Korea being allowed to continue on this progress it’s been making on the development of both weapons and delivery systems. And it’s reached a very alarming state to us. So it is getting a lot of discussion up front because it’s imminent. We have a broad range of issues that define the relationship. This is but one. There are others, and you listed them. All of them have their importance in the U.S.-China relationship, but this one — as I said — just happens to have bubbled to the top because of the recent actions that have been taken by North Korea." [SourceInterview with Independent Journal Review's Erin McPike. March 18, 2017
  • " Well, again, I think that requires more conversations by the two leaders and a greater understanding from both sides as to their priorities, ours, their aspirations and ours. I do think we’re at somewhat of a historic moment in the U.S.-China relationship. It has been defined for the past 40 years by the opening of China, the Nixon-Kissinger visit. During that time, by and large, the U.S. and China have found a way to exist together in this world, to deal with our conflicts. We’ve never fought a war with each other, other than on the Korean peninsula. That’s the only time we’ve fought a war with each other. And even as China’s country and economy have grown, and now occupies its place in the global economy, we have always managed to exist with one another in a spirit of non-conflict. It doesn’t mean we don’t have differences, but we’ve always found ways to either resolve them or to live with them. Accept that we have differences and move on and still do what’s in the best interest of our people, and China in the best interest of theirs. But I do think because of what is happening globally with people in the world over — globalization itself — that we’re at perhaps at an inflection point in the relationship of global powers in general. And I do think that the Chinese and the U.S. need to have a fresh conversation about what will define the relationship between the United States and China for the next 50 years. We can look back and see how successful we’ve been, 40 years of what I would say has been a very successful relationship with two very powerful nations living with one another without conflict. But now we find that there are issues arising that have gone unresolved. And I think how we are able to talk about those and how we are able to chart our course forward is going to set, potentially, the relationship in a new era of existing together without conflict, in an era of non-conflict. Again, it doesn’t mean we won’t have differences, but we will find how are we going to live with one another for the next 50 years. Because I think there’s a question, perhaps even in the minds of the Chinese: How will the American people, the Chinese people, live with each other in this world for the next half century?" [SourceInterview with Independent Journal Review's Erin McPike. March 18, 2017
  • "Well, that is one among several issues attached to North Korea [refugees], but also attached to a broader, I think, view that we would want to take with China regarding treatment of people under that broad category of human rights. The American people’s commitment to human rights and championing of people the world over — it’s embedded in everything we do. I never have viewed that it sits out here as something to the side that we somehow have to deal with it separately. It really is a part of every policy that we’re discussing, whether it’s economic or security or whatever the policy may be. Embedded in all of those is always with us is the protection of people, advocating for people’s freedom, advocating for a better life for others. That is just a part of the American values system that is part of every policy discussion we have. So it will always be ever-present in our conversations with the Chinese." [SourceInterview with Independent Journal Review's Erin McPike. March 18, 2017
  • On March 18, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Chinese President Xi JinpingChinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi during his first trip to the Asia Pacific region. During these three meetings, Secretary Tillerson and his counterparts emphasized the opportunities for future cooperation between China and the United States following the historic opening under President Nixon 40 years ago, including on countering the North Korean threat
  • On February 28, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi to discuss areas of mutual concern including facilitating continued economic engagement and North Korea. 
  • On February 21, 2017, Secretary Tillerson spoke on the phone with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi concerning North Korea and potential areas of cooperation. 
  • On February 17, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the outskirts of the G-20 Summit in Bonn, Germany. They discussed the North Korean threat and agreed to continue working towards a productive bilateral relationship.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson discussed China's lack of enforcement on issues concerning North Korea.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson discussed security and trade concerns surrounding China but also touched on the necessity of positive relations with China.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on whether China is a human rights violator.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) on the Trump administration's Taiwan policy and the "One China policy."

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) on the South China Sea and China's activites there.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Todd Young (R-IN) on China's ability to check North Korea, particularly in regards to China's economic clout and sanctions.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) on what his policies towards North Korea would be, including sanctions, aiding US allies, and working with China.

Human Rights & Democracy

  • "In China, the government tortures, detains, and imprisons thousands for practicing their religious beliefs. Dozens of Falun Gong members have died in detention. Police – policies that restrict Uighur Muslims’ and Tibetan Buddhists’ religious expression and practice have increased." [SourceRemarks on the 2016 International Religious Freedom Annual Report. August 15, 2017 
  • "With respect to the assistance we’re providing the Philippines Government to respond to ISIS, there is – there really is no, I think, contradiction at all in the support we’re giving them in the fight down in Marawi and Mindanao. As you know, most of what we’re providing them is information, some surveillance capabilities with some recent transfers of a couple of Cessnas and a couple of UAVs to allow them to have better information in which to conduct the fight down there. We’re providing them some training and some guidance in terms of how to deal with an enemy that fights in ways that is not like most people have ever had to deal with. So it is – it’s a tragic situation down there. We think they are beginning to get that situation under control, but the real challenge is going to come with once they have the fighting brought to an end how to deal with the conditions on the ground and ensure it does not re-emerge. And so I think our – bringing our knowledge of having dealt with this enemy in other parts of the world is useful to them, and I think that is also in our national security interest as well. But I see no conflict, no conflict at all in our helping them with that situation and our views of other human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counternarcotics activities."[SourcePress Availability in Manila, Philippines. August 7, 2017
  • "Today, I join those in China and around the world in mourning the tragic passing of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died while serving a lengthy prison sentence in China for promoting peaceful democratic reform. Mr. Liu dedicated his life to the betterment of his country and humankind, and to the pursuit of justice and liberty. My heartfelt condolences go out to Liu’s wife Liu Xia and all of his loved ones. I call on the Chinese government to release Liu Xia from house arrest and allow her to depart China, according to her wishes. In his fight for freedom, equality, and constitutional rule in China, Liu Xiaobo embodied the human spirit that the Nobel Prize rewards. In his death, he has only reaffirmed the Nobel Committee’s selection‎." [Source] State Department Press Statement. July 13, 2017 
  • "This year marks the 28th anniversary of the Chinese government’s violent suppression of a peaceful protest that took place in and around Tiananmen Square. We call again on China to make a full accounting of those killed, detained, or missing due to the events of June 4, 1989. We urge China to cease harassment of family members seeking redress and to release from prison those who have been jailed for striving to keep the memory of Tiananmen Square alive. The United States views the protection of human rights as a fundamental duty of all countries, and we urge the Chinese government to respect the universal rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens." [SourceStatement on the 28th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square. June 4, 2017
  • "Well, that is one among several issues attached to North Korea [refugees], but also attached to a broader, I think, view that we would want to take with China regarding treatment of people under that broad category of human rights. The American people’s commitment to human rights and championing of people the world over — it’s embedded in everything we do. I never have viewed that it sits out here as something to the side that we somehow have to deal with it separately. It really is a part of every policy that we’re discussing, whether it’s economic or security or whatever the policy may be. Embedded in all of those is always with us is the protection of people, advocating for people’s freedom, advocating for a better life for others. That is just a part of the American values system that is part of every policy discussion we have. So it will always be ever-present in our conversations with the Chinese." [SourceInterview with Independent Journal Review's Erin McPike. March 18, 2017

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on whether China is a human rights violator.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on whether the extrajudicial killings being undertaken in the Philippines under the Duterte administration human rights violations.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) on whether he would call the extrajudicial killings being undertaken in the Philippines under the Duterte administration human rights violations.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) on if he were given information by State Department operatives that confirmed the actions undertaken by the Duterte administration in the Philippines were human rights violations that that would determine his ruling on the matter.

North Korea

  • "The U.S. is willing to negotiate with Pyongyang. But given the long record of North Korea’s dishonesty in negotiations and repeated violations of international agreements, it is incumbent upon the regime to signal its desire to negotiate in good faith. A sincere indication would be the immediate cessation of its provocative threats, nuclear tests, missile launches and other weapons tests." [SourceJoint statement with Secretary of Defense James Mattis for The Wall Street Journal "We're Holding Pyongyang to Account." August 13, 2017
  • "While diplomacy is our preferred means of changing North Korea’s course of action, it is backed by military options. The U.S. alliances with South Korea and Japan are strong. But Pyongyang has persistently rebuffed Seoul’s attempts to create conditions whereby peaceful dialogue can occur, and has instead proceeded on its reckless course of threats and provocation. As a result of these dangers, South Korea’s new government is moving forward with the deployment of U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense against the threat. We commend South Korea’s decision to deploy this purely defensive capability. Installing Thaad launchers on the Korean Peninsula and conducting joint military exercises are defensive preparations against the acute threat of military actions directed against the U.S., our allies and other nations. China’s demand for the U.S. and South Korea not to deploy Thaad is unrealistic. Technically astute Chinese military officers understand the system poses no danger to their homeland." [SourceJoint statement with Secretary of Defense James Mattis for The Wall Street Journal "We're Holding Pyongyang to Account." August 13, 2017
  • "We urge all nations to honor their commitments to enforce U.N. Security Council sanctions against North Korea and to increase diplomatic, economic and political pressure on the regime, specifically through the abandonment of trade, which finances the development of ballistic and nuclear weapons. The U.S. continues to consolidate international unity on the North Korean issue through increased engagement at the U.N., at regional diplomatic forums, and in capitals around the world." [SourceJoint statement with Secretary of Defense James Mattis for The Wall Street Journal "We're Holding Pyongyang to Account." August 13, 2017
  • "The object of our peaceful pressure campaign is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. has no interest in regime change or accelerated reunification of Korea. We do not seek an excuse to garrison U.S. troops north of the Demilitarized Zone. We have no desire to inflict harm on the long-suffering North Korean people, who are distinct from the hostile regime in Pyongyang. Our diplomatic approach is shared by many nations supporting our goals, including China, which has dominant economic leverage over Pyongyang. China is North Korea’s neighbor, sole treaty ally and main commercial partner. Chinese entities are, in one way or another, involved with roughly 90% of North Korean trade. This affords China an unparalleled opportunity to assert its influence with the regime. Recent statements by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as other regional and global voices, have made clear the international community holds one view regarding North Korea’s provocative and dangerous actions: They must stop. Pyongyang must stand down on those actions. China has a strong incentive to pursue the same goals as the U.S. The North Korean regime’s actions and the prospect of nuclear proliferation or conflict threaten the economic, political and military security China has worked to build over decades. North Korea’s behavior further threatens China’s long-term interest in regional peace and stability. If China wishes to play a more active role in securing regional peace and stability—from which all of us, especially China, derive such great benefit—it must make the decision to exercise its decisive diplomatic and economic leverage over North Korea." [SourceJoint statement with Secretary of Defense James Mattis for The Wall Street Journal "We're Holding Pyongyang to Account." August 13, 2017
  • [Source for video below] Press Statement. August 9, 2017 
  • "Well, the best signal that North Korea could give us that they’re prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches. We’ve not had an extended period of time where they have not taken some type of provocative action by launching ballistic missiles. So I think that would be the first and strongest signal they could send us is just stop, stop these missile launches. Obviously, we have other means of communication open to them, to certainly hear from them if they have a desire to want to talk." [SourcePress Availability in Manila, Philippines. August 7, 2017
  • "I think the strong UN Security Council resolution unanimously approved, working in coordination with China and Russia both to put out a statement from the Security Council that I think is quite clear in terms of there being no daylight among the international community as to the expectation that North Korea will take steps to achieve all of our objectives, which is a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. I think there should be no question in anyone’s mind as to the common view held by everyone on that Security Council as that being the ultimate objective. I think we also – as you well know, ASEAN released a – what I consider to be a very strong statement as well demonstrating their commitment as well to support a denuclearized Korean Peninsula – I think a statement that’s probably stronger than any we’ve ever seen from ASEAN in terms of a view on this particular issue. So I think two very important actions taken to hopefully send a strong message that North Korea understands the expectation of the rest of the international community going forward." [Source] Press Availability in Manila, Philippines. August 7, 2017
  • [Source] State Department Press Availability. August 1, 2017
  • "The United States strongly condemns North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, the second this month, in blatant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions that reflect the will of the international community. All nations should take a strong public stance against North Korea, by maintaining and strengthening UN sanctions to ensure North Korea will face consequences for its relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. As the principal economic enablers of North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development program, China and Russia bear unique and special responsibility for this growing threat to regional and global stability. The United States seeks the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the end to belligerent actions by North Korea. As we and others have made clear, we will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea nor abandon our commitment to our allies and partners in the region." [Source] State Department Press Statement. July 28, 2017

    "The United States strongly condemns North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world. Global action is required to stop a global threat. Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime. All nations should publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to their pursuit of nuclear weapons. We intend to bring North Korea's provocative action before the UN Security Council and enact stronger measures to hold the DPRK accountable.The United States seeks only the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the end of threatening actions by North Korea. As we, along with others, have made clear, we will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea." [Source] State Department Press Statement. July 4, 2017

  • "With respect to North Korea and China’s activities in the South China Sea, we had a very good discussion about that today. We have called on all nations that have any type of relations, economic activity with North Korea, to join us in putting pressure on the regime in Pyongyang to cause them to rethink the strategy and the pathway they’re on with the development of their nuclear weapons program. All the regional partners, including China, have reaffirmed without question their commitment to a de-nuclearized Korean Peninsula. And so now I think the question is: How do we work together collectively to bring Pyongyang to the table, to have a discussion about that future, a different future than the one they have charted thus far?" [SourcePress Briefing with New Zealand Prime Minister Bil English. June 6, 2017
  • "Today, we also speak with one voice in calling for North Korea to abandon its illegal nuclear weapons program. China and other regional partners should also step up their efforts to help solve this security situation which threatens not just that region but really presents a threat to the entire world." [Source] Press Briefing following the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN). June 5, 2017
  • On May 16, 2017, Secretary Tillerson spoke with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida over the phone about North Korea's latest missile test on May 13th. 
  • "We are clear – we’ve been clear to them this is not about regime change, this is not about regime collapse, this is not about an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, this is not about us looking for an excuse to come north of the 38th Parallel. So we’re trying to be very, very clear and resolute in our message to them that your future security and economic prosperity can only be achieved through your following your commitments to denuclearize." [Source] Remarks to State Department Employees. May 3, 2017
  • "So it’s a pressure campaign that has a knob on it. I’d say we’re at about dial setting 5 or 6 right now, with a strong call of countries all over the world to fully implement the UN Security Council resolutions regarding sanctions, because no one has ever fully implemented those. So we’re going to lean into people to fully implement them. We’ve told them we’re watching what you’re doing. When we see you not implementing, we see companies or we see individuals that are violating these sanctions, we’re going to contact you and we’re going to ask you to take care of it. If you can’t take care of it or you simply don’t want to take care of it for your own internal political reasons, we will. We’ll sanction them through third-country sanctions. So we are being very open and transparent about our intentions, and we’re asking our partners around the world to please take actions on your own. We want you to control how that happens. We’re not trying to control it for you, but we have an expectation of what you will do. So we’re putting that pressure on. We are preparing additional sanctions, if it turns out North Korea’s actions warrant additional sanctions. We’re hopeful that the regime in North Korea will think about this and come to a conclusion that there’s another way to the future. We know they have – they’re – they aspire to nuclear weapons because it’s the regime’s belief it’s the only way they can secure their future." [Source] Remarks to State Department Employees. May 3, 2017
  • "So many people are saying, well, gee, this is just the same thing we’ve tried over and over – we’re going to put pressure on the regime in Pyongyang, they’re not going to do anything, and then in the end we’ll all cave. Well, the difference, I think, in our approach this time is we’re going to test this assumption, and when the – when folks came in to review the situation with me, the assumption was that China has limited influence on the regime in Pyongyang, or they have a limited willingness to assert their influence. And so I told the President we’ve got to test that, and we’re going to test it by leaning hard into them, and this is a good place to start our engagement with China. And so that’s what we’ve been doing, is leaning hard into China to test their willingness to use their influence, their engagement with the regime in North Korea. All of it backed up by very strong resolve on our part to have a denuclearized peninsula with a commitment to our security alliances on the peninsula and in the region to our important allies Japan and South Korea." [Source] Remarks to State Department Employees. May 3, 2017
  • "So as all of you clearly understand, when we came in to the State Department, the administration came in, was sworn in, immediately confronted with a serious situation in North Korea. Now, the prior administration, as all of you know, President Obama told President Trump this was going to be your greatest threat that you’re going to have to manage, and he was right. So it was – it’s right on the doorstep. And so it got immediate attention. It was the first policy area that we began to develop in terms of what is our overarching strategic approach and how do we want to execute against that. In evaluating that, what was important to us and to me to understand was, first, where are our allies? And so engaging with our allies and ensuring that our allies and we see the situation the same – our allies in South Korea, our allies in Japan. And then, secondly, it was to engage with the other regional powers as to how do they see it. And so it was useful and helpful to have the Chinese and now the Russians articulate clearly that their policy is unchanged; they – their policy is a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. And of course we did our part many years ago. We took all the nuclear weapons out of South Korea. So now we have a shared objective, and that’s very useful, from which you then build out your policy approaches and your strategies." [SourceRemarks to State Department Employees. May 3, 2017
  • On April 28, 2017, Secretary Tillerson chaired a ministerial meeting of the United Nationa Security Council on the prospects of denuclearizing North Korea following a string of missile tests from the country. 
  • "Well, it’s extraordinarily important, first to just the broader relationship of where U.S.-China relations are going to find themselves over the next two to three to four decades. I think we are at a bit of an inflection point in the U.S.-China relationship. Now, North Korea is a threat that presents itself right up front to both of us, and in our conversations with the Chinese, and we have been very clear to them – I was on my initial trips to Beijing and then in the visit of President Xi to Mar-a-Lago, the President and I were able to be very clear to them – that things have to change in North Korea and we need their help doing that. What China is beginning to reevaluate is whether North Korea is any kind of an asset to them or whether North Korea themselves and the regime have become a liability to China’s own security – because, as I’ve said to my Chinese counterparts, those missiles go in all directions." [Source] Interview with Steve Inskeep of NPR. April 27, 2017
  • "We have been very clear as to what our objectives are and equally clear what our objectives are not. And we do not seek regime change. We do not seek a collapse of the regime. We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula. We seek a denuclearized Korean peninsula, and again, that is entirely consistent with the objectives of others in the region as well." [Source] Interview with Steve Inskeep of NPR. April 27, 2017
  • "We don’t have any redlines. I think what you’re talking about, perhaps, is how do we get there. And we say we can’t begin the process of getting there until North Korea comes to the table with a willingness to talk about how we get there and how they achieve their objective. If you listen to the North Koreans and the regime of Pyongyang, their reason for having nuclear weapons is they believe it is their only pathway to secure the ongoing existence of their regime. What we hope to convince them is you do not need these weapons to secure the existence of your regime." [Source] Interview with Steve Inskeep of NPR. April 27, 2017
  • "Well, our goal is the same as that of China, which is a denuclearized Korean peninsula. A denuclearized Korean peninsula. It’s very clear. That’s China’s stated policy. It has been our stated policy. It’s been the stated policy of our allies in the region. And I would quickly add we did our part. We took our nuclear weapons out of the Korean peninsula. It’s time for North Korea to take their weapons out as well. [...] Nothing less.[Source] Interview with Steve Inskeep of NPR. April 27, 2017
  • "Yes, our approach to North Korea is to have them change their posture towards any future talks. And I think when we say the era of strategic patience is over, in the past, I think we have always negotiated our way to the negotiating table. So when they act up, we would negotiate our way to get them to come to the table and then decide what we’re going to give them to have them behave. We don’t have the running room left to do that now given how far advanced their program has become. So this is an approach that is to put pressure on them through implementation of all the sanctions, as well as other diplomatic pressures and calling on others, to cause them to change their view of what will really allow them to achieve the security that they say they seek. [...] Obviously, that would be the way we would like to solve this, but North Korea has to decide they’re ready to talk to us about the right agenda. And the right agenda is not simply stopping where they are for a few more months or a few more years and then resuming things. That’s been the agenda for the last 20 years." [Source] Interview with Steve Inskeep of NPR. April 27, 2017
  • "[...A]ll indications are that he [North Korean leader Kim Jong Un] is not crazy. He may be ruthless. He may be a murderer. He may be someone who in many respects we would say by our standards is irrational. But he is not insane. And indications are in the past, and when certain events have happened, he has taken rational – he’s made rational choices. Now, we don’t have a long history with this young leader, only about five years, so we recognize we are dealing with a relative level of unknown and uncertainty. That is part of the risk that the President has been willing to take in this approach." [SourceInterview with Bret Baier of Fox News. April 27, 2017
  • "We know that China is in communications with the regime in Pyongyang. They confirmed to us that they had requested the regime conduct no further nuclear test; and in fact, we were told by the Chinese that they informed the regime that if they did conduct a further nuclear test, China would be taking sanctions actions on their own. So I think the Chinese seem to be willing to work with us. We hope they are. We believe that they are an important element to us causing the regime to take a different view towards future talks." [SourceInterview with Bret Baier of Fox News. April 27, 2017
  • "Well, the regime in the past has indicated the reason they pursue nuclear weapons is they feel that is the only way to ensure their survival as a regime. We want to change that view of theirs. We want to change that calculus of theirs. And we have said to them that your pathway to survival and security is to eliminate your nuclear weapons, and we and other countries will be prepared to help you on a pathway of economic development and become a stable, secure part of a stable, prosperous Northeast Asia. Now, that is how we de-risk North Korea to China as well, as I think it’s well understood China has concerns about destabilizing the regime in North Korea due to possible impacts of a failed regime. We have been very clear we do not seek regime change in North Korea, we’re not seeking a collapse of the regime, we are not seeking to find some excuse for an accelerated reunification of the peninsula. What we are seeking is the same thing China has said they seek: a full denuclearization of the Korean peninsula." [Source] Interview with Bret Baier of Fox News. April 27, 2017
  • "We obviously had direct talks with the Chinese during President Xi’s visit to Mar-a-Lago. I first spoke to the Chinese on my first trip to Beijing to make clear to them that we were unwilling to negotiate our way to the negotiating table. And I think that’s the mistakes of the past – that the regime in North Korea has to position itself in a different place in order for us to be willing to engage in talks. We are asking a lot of the Chinese. I think in the past, the assumption has been the Chinese would only take limited action. We’re going to test that assumption. We’re going to test their willingness to help us address this serious threat that it’s not only one to the region and to us, but is becoming a threat to China themselves. And so we’re asking that they evaluate the situation. But I think what’s different is we have expanded the network of calling on others to fully implement the sanctions under the UN Security Council resolutions, which have never been fully implemented. So we’re holding people accountable to implementing these sanctions, and we are broadening our call to other nations to put pressure on Pyongyang, because Pyongyang’s missiles can now go in any direction. And this is a threat that is now moving out of the region and it’s becoming global." [Source] Interview with Bret Baier of Fox News. April 27, 2017
  • "One of the first topics that he [President Trump] asked the National Security Council to address was the threat of North Korea. We’ve put in place a very deliberate strategy which we are just in the early stages of executing, and it is one that does involve bringing significant pressure to bear on the regime in Pyongyang. It also involves calling on China to play a role in how we deal with this threat. So again, you’re right; tensions are running a bit high right now. We expected they would. And our approach to addressing this issue, we know there’s going to be risk involved. Those risks are very measured. We shared those with the President. He’s been very deliberate about the actions that he’s asked us to take, and we’ll see how this all plays out." [Source] Interview with Bret Baier of Fox News. April 27, 2017
  • "Past efforts have failed to halt North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs and nuclear and ballistic missile tests. With each provocation, North Korea jeopardizes stability in Northeast Asia and poses a growing threat to our allies and the U.S. homeland. North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority. Upon assuming office, President Trump ordered a thorough review of U.S. policy pertaining to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). [...] We are engaging responsible members of the international community to increase pressure on the DPRK in order to convince the regime to de-escalate and return to the path of dialogue. We will maintain our close coordination and cooperation with our allies, especially the Republic of Korea and Japan, as we work together to preserve stability and prosperity in the region. The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We remain open to negotiations towards that goal. However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies." [Source] Joint Statement with Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. April 26, 2017
  • "I can tell you that President Trump, President Xi had very extensive discussions regarding the serious situation in North Korea. They met for quite some time one-on-one to discuss North Korea, and there was a full range of options that were discussed between the two leaders. President Xi expressed agreement that the situation has reached a new level of seriousness and threat. He expressed the view that he wanted to be supportive in terms of causing the regime in Pyongyang to change its view around the future need for those weapons. China has expressed on multiple occasions and they reaffirmed it in our discussions with us here in Mar-a-Lago that their policy is unchanged, and that is for a denuclearized Korean peninsula. [...] . It’s only been a couple of weeks since we announced our policy changes and have called on the Government of China to take additional steps. We expect that they will. They have indicated that they will. And I think we need to allow them time to take actions." [Source] Interview with George Stephanopoulos of APC This Week. April 9, 2017
  • "And I think in terms of North Korea, we’ve been very clear that our objective is a denuclearized Korean peninsula. We have no objective to change the regime in North Korea; that is not our objective. And so the whole reasons underlying the development of a nuclear program in North Korea are simply not credible." [Source] Interview with George Stephanopoulos of APC This Week. April 9, 2017
  • "I can-- I can tell you that both the president-- presidents had extensive discussions around the dangerous situation in North Korea. They had a very lengthy exchange on-- on the subject yesterday morning. I think it was a very useful and productive exchange. President Xi clearly understands, and-- and I think agrees, that the situation has intensified and has reached a certain level of threat that action has to be taken. And, indeed, the Chinese, even themselves, have said that they do not believe the conditions are right today to engage in discussions with the government in Pyongyang.  And so what I think we’re hopeful is that we can work together with the Chinese to change the conditions in the minds of-- of the DPRK leadership. And then, at that point, perhaps discussions may be useful. But I think there’s a shared view and no disagreement as to how dangerous the situation has become. And I think even China is beginning to recognize that this presents a threat to even-- to-- to China’s interests as well." [Source] Interview with Face the Nation following Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting with President Trump. April 9, 2017
  • "We are hopeful that China will find ways to exercise influence over North Korea's actions to dismantle their nuclear weapons and their missile technology programs. Whether it's using their authority on the UN Security Council or utilising new levers of power, China can be part of a new strategy to end North Korea's reckless behaviour and ensure security, stability, and economic prosperity in Northeast Asia." [SourceRemarks to reporters at West Palm Beach Airport as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for his meeting with President Trump. April 7, 2017
  • "North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment." [Source] Press Statement. April 4, 2017
  • "Our objective is a denuclearized Korean peninsula. A denuclearized Korean peninsula negates any thought or need for Japan to have nuclear weapons. We say all options are on the table, but we cannot predict the future. So we do think it's important that everyone in the region has a clear understanding that circumstances could evolve to the point that for mutual deterrence reasons, we might have to consider that. But as I said yesterday, there are a lot of … there’s a lot of steps and a lot of distance between now and a time that we would have to make a decision like that. Our objective is to have the regime in North Korea come to a conclusion that the reasons that they have felt they have had to develop nuclear weapons, those reasons are not well-founded. We want to change that understanding. With that, we do believe that if North Korea [were to] stand down on this nuclear program, that is their quickest means to begin to develop their economy and to become a vibrant economy for the North Korean people. If they don’t do that, they will have a very difficult time developing their economy. [...] Well, option one is to send very strong messages to North Korea by way of the sanctions — sanctions which have already been imposed by the UN Security Council resolutions — and to ask that everyone fully implement those sanctions. And there are additional steps that we can take to increase the pressure on the regime in hopes that they will understand the path they’re on is simply not sustainable. [...] Well, the first steps are the UN sanctions. There are broader sanctions that we can consider. I think that there are additional actions that the UN, that we can consider. There are broader participation by other countries in putting pressure on North Korea. So, this is a staged approach in which we want to give the North Korean government time to understand what’s happening, time to make decisions and adjust. We’re not … it’s not our objective to force them into some brash action. It’s our objective for them to understand things only continue to get more difficult if they don’t change their path. We want to give you time to change your path. [SourceInterview with Independent Journal Review's Erin McPike. March 18, 2017
  • "No one issue defines the relationship between the U.S. and China. We will be talking about a broad range of issues when I’m in Beijing. But the threat of North Korea is imminent. And it has reached a level that we are very concerned about the consequences of North Korea being allowed to continue on this progress it’s been making on the development of both weapons and delivery systems. And it’s reached a very alarming state to us. So it is getting a lot of discussion up front because it’s imminent. We have a broad range of issues that define the relationship. This is but one. There are others, and you listed them. All of them have their importance in the U.S.-China relationship, but this one — as I said — just happens to have bubbled to the top because of the recent actions that have been taken by North Korea." [SourceInterview with Independent Journal Review's Erin McPike. March 18, 2017

During his first visit to Japan on March 16, 2017, Secretary Tillerson discussed US policy towards North Korea at length during his press conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida. He stated that diplomacy has "failed" and working with Japan and South Korea to decide on a new approach was of vital importance. 

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson discussed China's lack of enforcement on issues concerning North Korea.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Todd Young (R-IN) on China's ability to check North Korea, particularly in regards to China's economic clout and sanctions.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) on what his policies towards North Korea would be, including sanctions, aiding US allies, and working with China.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) on President Trump's tweet regarding North Korea's ballistic missile program and whether that constituted a "red line."

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on whether the United States should lay down a stronger line in light of North Korea's continuing ballistic missile tests.

South China Sea

  • "With respect to China’s activities in the South China Sea, we share the same view that freedom of navigation both of the waters but also the airways is vital to global economic prosperity. It’s vital to the growth of economic prosperity in the region, and anything that threatens that threatens not just this region but the entire world’s economic prosperity. So we are, I think, of one mind with many others in the region as well in conveying to China that these actions they’re taking to build islands and, more alarmingly, to militarize these islands threatens the stability, the stability that really has served China as well or better than anyone in terms of China’s ability to grow its economy. It’s been this very stable environment that has existed. These actions of theirs threaten that stability, and we ask that they cease those activities." [SourcePress Briefing with New Zealand Prime Minister Bil English. June 6, 2017
  • "The U.S. and Australia also reaffirmed our commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the seas, particularly the South China Sea and elsewhere, to ensure unimpeded flow of lawful commerce and a rules-based order. We oppose China’s artificial island construction and their militarization of features in international waters. China is a significant economic and trading power, and we desire a productive relationship, but we cannot allow China to use its economic power to buy its way out of other problems, whether it’s militarizing islands in the South China Sea or failure to put appropriate pressure on North Korea. They must recognize that with a role as a growing economic and trading power comes security responsibilities as well." [Source] Press Briefing following the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN). June 5, 2017
  • "Obviously, throughout Asia we’ve got a lot of work do with ASEAN nations and re-solidifying our leadership with ASEAN on a number of security issues but also trade issues and the South China Sea, strengthen relations with Australia and New Zealand – really important partners with us on a number of counterterrorism fronts. And so throughout the region those engagements are underway. And the President has committed to make the trip to Vietnam and to the Philippines for those meetings this fall, and I think that’s going to be very important that he is going, and we’ll be going in advance, obviously, to prepare for all of that." [SourceRemarks to State Department Employees. May 3, 2017

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) on the South China Sea and China's activites there.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) on whether he would support the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Southeast Asia/ASEAN

  • "On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I offer congratulations to the Republic of Indonesia as it celebrates its National Day and 72nd year of independence on August 17th. The United States and Indonesia share much in common as two dynamic and diverse democracies and G20 economies. We continue to reaffirm and reinforce our strategic partnership, as demonstrated most recently in a meeting between President Trump and President Joko Widodo at the G20 summit, and during Vice President Pence’s visit to Jakarta last April. We look forward to deepening our cooperation in support of peace, security, and prosperity in the region and for our two peoples." [SourceIndonesia National Day. August 16, 2017
  • "So our two countries [United States and Malaysia] really have a lot in common. It’s a really important relationship to the U.S. both from the standpoint of regional security issues, strong mil-to-mil relationships, but obviously very important and significant economic relationships – a lot of U.S. direct investment in this country, a long history of U.S. direct investment in this country, and a large U.S. American population that makes their home here. And you know all of them and where they are and what they do because you have to help take care of them and their needs while they’re here in Malaysia as well. But also, we’re working hard to attract more Malaysian investment back home in the U.S., and I know many of you worked in that area in that regard as well to promote opportunities for Malaysian investors and Malaysian business back in the U.S., and we want to continue to expand and grow that as well." [SourceRemarks to US Embassy Staff in Malaysia. August 9, 2017
  • "The U.S.-Thailand relationship, I think as you know, it is a historic one. We want to continue to grow that relationship, even in its ups and downs, which has been the history of this country. We have been treaty partners for over 184 years, and we've been allies for over 60. So next year the U.S., I think most of you know, will mark 200 years of relations with Thailand. And I think that's significant because elections are scheduled here in Thailand next year, as well, to return the country to civilian control. We certainly hope those elections proceed as scheduled. And I think it'll be meaningful that we're celebrating 200 years at a time when the country is returning to civilian control." [SourceRemarks to US Embassy Staff in Thailand. August 8, 2017
  • "Singapore is a longstanding, valued partner and friend in one of the most dynamic regions in the world. For more than 50 years, the United States and Singapore have enjoyed a close economic and security relationship based on our shared vision for stability and prosperity. We look forward to further strengthening our partnership to advance mutual interests and to address shared concerns in the years ahead." [SourceRemarks on Republic of Singapore National Day. August 8, 2017
  • "On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, we offer congratulations to the peoples and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as the ASEAN Secretariat, on the organization’s 50th anniversary on August 8th. Since 1967, ASEAN has made remarkable strides in maintaining peace across Southeast Asia, accelerating economic growth, and improving the lives of the citizens of its 10 member states. We are also proud this year to celebrate 40 years of close ties between the United States and ASEAN. Our partnership is growing as we address shared challenges such as terrorism, trafficking in persons, and maritime security. Substantial trade and investment between the United States and ASEAN creates jobs for our peoples. Programs like Fulbright and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative build enduring people-to-people ties. In April, Vice President Pence met with ASEAN permanent representative and the ASEAN Secretariat, and announced that President Trump will travel to Manila for the U.S.-ASEAN and East Asia Summits later this year. This is a testament to the value the United States places on our partnership with ASEAN and, as a Pacific nation, our engagement with the broader Asia-Pacific region. We congratulate ASEAN on its 50th anniversary and look forward to continuing our partnership and friendship with the people and governments of Southeast Asia and the ASEAN Secretariat to advance peace, stability, and prosperity for all." [Source] Press Statement on ASEAN Day 2017. August 7, 2017
  • "With respect to the assistance we’re providing the Philippines Government to respond to ISIS, there is – there really is no, I think, contradiction at all in the support we’re giving them in the fight down in Marawi and Mindanao. As you know, most of what we’re providing them is information, some surveillance capabilities with some recent transfers of a couple of Cessnas and a couple of UAVs to allow them to have better information in which to conduct the fight down there. We’re providing them some training and some guidance in terms of how to deal with an enemy that fights in ways that is not like most people have ever had to deal with. So it is – it’s a tragic situation down there. We think they are beginning to get that situation under control, but the real challenge is going to come with once they have the fighting brought to an end how to deal with the conditions on the ground and ensure it does not re-emerge. And so I think our – bringing our knowledge of having dealt with this enemy in other parts of the world is useful to them, and I think that is also in our national security interest as well. But I see no conflict, no conflict at all in our helping them with that situation and our views of other human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counternarcotics activities."[SourcePress Availability in Manila, Philippines. August 7, 2017
  • "We had also some very constructive conversations with our ASEAN colleagues in the U.S.-ASEAN meeting yesterday, I think, again, just continuing the strong commitment from both an economic and security standpoint but also continuing the cultural and people-to-people exchanges that exist today through a number of educational programs and other efforts that we think are important for drawing our peoples closer together." [SourcePress Availability in Manila, Philippines. August 7, 2017
  • On August 6, 2017, Secretary Tillerson issued a joint statement with his counterparts from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar during the 10th Ministerial Meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative to continue their partnership on increasing sustainable development of the region. 
  • "Obviously, throughout Asia we’ve got a lot of work do with ASEAN nations and re-solidifying our leadership with ASEAN on a number of security issues but also trade issues and the South China Sea, strengthen relations with Australia and New Zealand – really important partners with us on a number of counterterrorism fronts. And so throughout the region those engagements are underway. And the President has committed to make the trip to Vietnam and to the Philippines for those meetings this fall, and I think that’s going to be very important that he is going, and we’ll be going in advance, obviously, to prepare for all of that." [SourceRemarks to State Department Employees. May 3, 2017
  • On May 4, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers at the State Department, commemorating 40 years of US-ASEAN partnership. They discussed regional concerns such as tensions in the South China Sea and on the Korean peninsula and looked for ways to further US-ASEAN ties through economic cooperation. 
  • On March 10, 2017 Secretary Tillerson met with the ambassadors of the 10 ASEAN member states.
  • On February 9, 2017, Secretary Tillerson reaffirmed the United States' "strong relationship" with its longtime partner Singapore during a phone call with Singaporean Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan. 

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on whether the extrajudicial killings being undertaken in the Philippines under the Duterte administration human rights violations.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) on whether he would call the extrajudicial killings being undertaken in the Philippines under the Duterte administration human rights violations.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on January 11, 2017, Rex Tillerson was questioned by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) on if he were given information by State Department operatives that confirmed the actions undertaken by the Duterte administration in the Philippines were human rights violations that that would determine his ruling on the matter.

Summits - APEC, East Asia (EAS), & US-ASEAN

 

Trade & Investment

  • On February 28, 2017, Secretary Tillerson met with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi to discuss areas of mutual concern including facilitating continued economic engagement and North Korea. 
  • On February 15, 2017, Secretary Tillerson spoke with Indian External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj. During their phone call, they agreed to continue working to build greater cooperation between the United States and India, including defense, energy, and the economy.

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Methodology: Policy materials and quotations from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are limited to after January 11, 2017 when he underwent a confirmation hearing before the Senate. Should any quotations before the period be deemed relevant they will be indicated by an asterisk (*) after the date. In all cases, these additional quotations were made within the year prior to the start of the Trump Administration. Flag icons that indicate which countries members of the Trump administration have traveled to are provided by Freepik, accessed through www.flaticon.com.

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