Town Hall With Cambodian Youth
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am delighted to be here with all of you and I thank you very much for being here on a holiday and participating in this town hall. Kalyan, thank you so much for an excellent job. And Minister of Education, thank you so much for being here with us, and our ambassador as well. I have come to Cambodia for the first time, but it is a destination I have long wanted to visit. And I especially, was moved by the reports of my husband’s visit in 2006 when he returned home with stories of the progress that is being – happening here now that I wanted to see with my own eyes.
I am very pleased that we have a chance now in 2010 to talk in a very open way about not only Cambodia’s future and especially for the young people like yourselves, but the partnership between Cambodia and the United States. We are very committed in my country to working with you to provide more young people with opportunities like student exchanges or Fulbright scholarships or other fellowships, a chance to study and learn in the United States, and we want to encourage more Americans to come to Cambodia to see for themselves and to experience the warmth and graciousness of the Cambodian people.
I also hope that we can have some ideas from you about what you would like to see the partnership between the United States and Cambodia to be like in the years ahead. As I look at this audience, I realize that many of you were not born when I was in school, and you were not born when your country was locked in a civil war. You have an opportunity to rewrite the future, and that’s what I think is so important about what is happening in Cambodia today. The great history, the culture, the arts, the legendary generosity of the Cambodian people is something that will always be with you. But it will be up to the young people to decide how to chart that new future.
Today, Cambodia is in the process of transformation. Peace reigns, the economy has grown fast for a decade, trade and foreign investment are increasing, tens of thousands of new jobs have been created, roads that were once impassable have been de-mined and rebuilt. The tribunal that was set up by Cambodia, the United Nations, and the international community is bringing some of the people who caused so much suffering to justice. That is very important work, although I’m well aware that the work of the tribunal is painful, but it is necessary to ensure a lasting peace. And I thank everyone who has supported that.
This progress is testament to the hard work and determination of the Cambodian people – you, your parents and grandparents, neighbors and friends – and the United States wants to help you keep that progress going. We think Cambodia has a very bright future, not only on your own but as part of a growing and thriving region. Right outside this building is the great Mekong River, one of the great rivers in the world. And yet climate change, dam building, is beginning to impede the flow and the predictability of that great river. This is just one of the challenges that will have to be addressed by you and your generation.
We want to help Cambodia establish a new era of opportunity so that you do not fear for the future, but you look forward to it; you find good jobs, you develop your talents, and you make your contribution. The United States Government has invested more than $70 million just this year for Cambodia’s economic development. We are also working in other areas. Our health experts are working (inaudible) experts to expand access to critical services for people, including prevention, treatment, and care for those living with HIV and AIDS. Our law enforcement experts are working together to crack down on human trafficking and child sex tourism. Yesterday, I visited a shelter in Siem Reap run by a friend of mine, a heroic Cambodian woman named Somaly Mam who herself was enslaved and escaped from that and now devotes her life to helping other women and girls escape as well.
The United States is also proud that we have worked to restore so many of your cultural and archeological treasures, because they say a lot about the great history of your people. And they also bring tourists, which is a great source of income for the country.
So I am here today because I don’t want to just read about Cambodia. I don’t want to just have someone else tell me what young people are thinking and doing. I want to hear that firsthand from you. And I hope that after this town hall is over that you will continue to engage with our American Embassy, with American businesses, NGOs, universities that have a presence in this country, because we want to not only have a partnership between our governments but a partnership between our people.
Earlier today, my staff and I toured the Genocide Museum in the old Tuol Sleng school. It’s a very disturbing experience. And the pictures – both the pictures of the young Cambodians who were killed and the young Cambodians who were doing the killing were so painful. But I also came away very impressed, because a country that is able to confront its past, (inaudible) a country that can overcome it. I travel all over the world. I like to go into settings like this that are unscripted and unprepared, as well as meeting with officials. I just met with His Majesty the King and I’ll meet with the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, and the foreign minister so that I can hear firsthand. So I have listened to what people in other countries tell me and I watch what they are doing. Countries that are held prisoners to their past can never break those chains and build the kind of future that their children deserve. So I was very proud to see firsthand the willingness of your country to face that past bravely and honestly.
And now I am here with you – young people, whose lives have been lived in peace, blessed with talents and energy, freedom to pursue your own dreams. You are the best evidence for Cambodia’s present and future potential. You really do represent the best hope, as young people in every country do. And I look forward to learning how the United States, both our government and our people, can be partners with you to help you realize your own dreams, but just as importantly to help your country have a future of peace, democracy, stability, and prosperity for all. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Now what we’re going to do is to have you raise your hands, and I will call on people. I will try to cover the whole room. Then a microphone will be handed to you, and if you would stand up and identify yourself and ask your question. And I have earphones so that if you’re not speaking in English I will get a translation and be able to respond to you.
So who wishes to start? Where should we start? Oh my goodness, this is great. All right, I saw a very eager hand, this young – right there. No, the one – you’re turning around. Right there, that young lady right there. Yes, yes, yes. I’ll take you and then I’ll take the other young lady, and then I’ll move to this other side. Okay.
QUESTION: Good morning, Madam Secretary. My name is Lita (ph) from the Department of Media and Education at (inaudible) university (inaudible), and my question goes to you. You are one of the most influential people in the world, so I wonder, has your gender ever been a challenge for you in your political career? Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: The answer is yes. Not often and not in any way that has prevented me from doing my job and pursuing my interests and my obligations, but I think it is fair to say that even in my country it is more challenging for women to (inaudible) public office in many different circumstances than it is for men. That has improved a lot. It is so much better than it used to be. But it remains a challenge for each woman to face and for all women to work to overcome.
It will not surprise you (inaudible) say that I am a strong supporter of the rights and opportunities of women and girls, because I believe that any country that does not use the talents of all of its people, including the one half that are women and girls, is losing out on what could be even greater opportunity and growth. And I would like to see more young women pursuing political careers in government, in political parties, even in running for office, in being appointed to high office. And I would like to see young women take advantage of careers in business, in academics, in the professions.
So that if you are willing to work hard, study hard, and be prepared, then you should be able to hold a job based on merit. And maybe at some point in the future, we will solely judge people on, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, the content of their character and their ability to do whatever job they are trying to do.
So I’ve had some challenges, not a lot but enough to know that it remains a real issue. And we all have to work in our own societies to try to open (inaudible) of opportunity and then assist young women to walk through them and to take advantage of their own commitment, determination, and to be successful not only for themselves but for their societies.
Now, there was another young woman who stood up at the same time, so let me take her and then I will move on. Yes.
QUESTION: Wow, I’m so excited. Good morning, good afternoon. (Laughter.) I would love to hear your own experience since you (inaudible) how to become very successful and powerful like you, because you are my idol, actually. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, thank you. Well, let me tell you just a little bit about my life, because everyone has a different life story and none of us is the same, which is one of the great joys of being human beings, because there is so much diversity and variety in who we are and where we come from. I am the oldest of three children. I have two younger brothers. My mother never went to college; she never had that chance. She had a very hard life as a girl and had to go to work when she was about 13, but she was able to finish high school. And my father was in the navy during World War II.
And when they got married, they were very committed to supporting their children and giving their children the best education, and they made no distinction between me and my brothers. They had the same expectations for all three of us. My father was pretty strict in the way he raised us, and he would tell me always to do my best and he expected me to work hard in school and perform to the best of my ability.
So when I went to college, it was a very important step for me and especially for my mother because she did not have that chance. And I always felt an obligation to study hard and to work hard and to do the best I could in anything I was doing. And so I graduated from college and then I went to law school, which was not that common for girls when I went to law school, but I liked to study how things worked in government and in society, and being a lawyer gave me a lot of information and insight into that.
And in law school I met a young man named Bill Clinton and started to date him, and we both graduated from law school and we both ended up being law professors. And we got married in 1975, so we just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. And we have a wonderful daughter, our daughter Chelsea, who just got married this past summer. And my husband has always worked very, very hard and he’s always supported me in the work that I have done.
So I had a supportive father and a supportive husband, and my advice is look for a supportive husband – (laughter) – as a young woman who wants to do things that enable you to use your education and follow your own dreams. But I also very much wanted to be a mother and feel like raising my daughter was the most important thing I’ve ever done, and I think you can combine and balance your personal hopes and your professional and public involvements. And I hope for each of the young women and the young men the kind of life experiences that will make you feel like you’ve had the best of both. It’s not easy, but it is very much worth it.
So thank you for your kind words, and I wish you luck. (Applause.)
Yes, this young man right there. Yes. Here comes the microphone.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madam Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and we (inaudible) speak to you this morning. And (inaudible) my question (inaudible) my friend (inaudible) too far from (inaudible) and we wish – we want to speak – we wish to have a conversation with him as well (inaudible) and (inaudible) to Mr. Obama that yes we can. He’s my hero.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh good, I will tell him that.
QUESTION: My question for you is, as you know, China is (inaudible) and influence in Cambodia and what is the implication of this influence on the partnership between Cambodia and the United States and (inaudible) democracy and (inaudible) Cambodia itself?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, thank you. (Applause.) Well, it is certainly up to Cambodia – your government and your people – to determine your own relationships with other countries. But I think it is smart for Cambodia to be friends with many countries and to look for opportunities to cooperate with many countries. I think that many countries want to support Cambodia and your future. Many countries are already contributing to Cambodia in arts, in culture, in health, education and so many other ways.
So it’s like our relationship with other countries. You look for balance. You don’t want to get too dependent on any one country. You want to be able to have partnerships that cut across regional geographic lines. China is a great country and China has a very, very exciting future. And there is certainly many reasons for Cambodia to have good relationships with China. I think there are also important issues that Cambodia must raise with China. For example, I mentioned the Mekong River. One of the initiatives that the United States is working on is to bring Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand together to work to protect the Lower Mekong. And one of the challenges are dams on the Upper Mekong, so there has to be negotiations and discussions even among friends about how to protect a great resource like the Mekong River for everyone.
So I think that it is not for the United States to tell Cambodia how to manage Cambodia’s relationships, but as a historical observation, having good relations with as many countries as you can, looking for ways to work with those countries, and to have very open dialogues so that you can solve problems, you don’t just have relationships but you raise issues with each other, I think is the best way to go. And so I would hope that that’s what Cambodia chooses to do in the future. (Applause.)
Oh my goodness, so many hands, so little time. That young man right there with glasses. The white shirt, yes.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you for being here today. I actually just read the essay that you wrote in Foreign Affairs the other day, and one of the things I found very insightful (inaudible) that the material conditions of people in other countries have a direct impact on security interests and the U.S. stability and prosperity.
Now, you may be aware that before your visit here, conversations in Cambodia often turn to the U.S. demand that Cambodia repay more than $400 million in debt that was incurred primarily in the early ‘70s. We, as a country, I think just cannot afford to repay that more than $400 million, is roughly 5 percent of our annual GDP. We cannot afford to repay unless we do it at the expense of the well-being and development of millions of Cambodians.
So my question is: Do you agree that the most (inaudible) solution to this problem is to probably start negotiating debt cancellation immediately? Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. First let me thank you for reading the Foreign Affairs article. I appreciate that very much. Actually, I’m going to raise with both the deputy prime minister, foreign minister, and with the prime minister my hope that we can resume discussions about how to handle this very old debt. When you have a debt like this one that does go back to the 1970s, to the Lon Nol government, then you know that it is something that carries not only financial implications but political and strategic implications as well.
And I want to – I will send a – if the Government of Cambodia is willing, I will send a team of experts and we will explore different ways to try to approach this – some combination of one of many different approaches. You could have some repayment, you could have debt for nature, you could have debt for education. There are things that the Government of Cambodia could do that would satisfy the need to demonstrate some level of accountability, but more importantly to invest those funds in the needs of the people of Cambodia. So I think there are ways we can explore this. There are international rules, as you know, about how to proceed. Something called the Club of Paris sets certain expectations. But I would very much like to address this. I don’t – I share your concern that it is hanging out there and it needs to be addressed, and I would like to begin that as soon as possible. So thank you for asking. That’s an excellent question. (Applause.)
Yes, this young lady right there.
QUESTION: How do you do, Madam Hillary Rodham Clinton? I’m from the (inaudible) by Professor (inaudible), and my major (inaudible) at (inaudible) university of Phnom Penh. I want to know if Cambodia have sex tourism and what do you think. And one more thing. What exactly that to increase the (inaudible) in Cambodia to be independent like U.S. That’s all.
SECRETARY CLINTON: To be more independent?
SECRETARY CLINTON: For the people to be more independent?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think education and economic development, increasing access for all people but particularly poor children to education, better infrastructure so that people can get their goods to markets. I know that Cambodia is primarily an agricultural economy, and making sure that you have the best means for agricultural production, systems for getting those products into markets so that the farmer benefits from them. So I think that there are certain practices that we have seen working in other places in the world that Cambodia is also able to take advantage of.
The key to a country’s freedom, to use your words, is a stable political system and a growing economy that is inclusive, so that the benefits of economic growth don’t go just to a small percentage of the population but that it goes through the population so that everybody feels that they have a chance, that their child can have a better life, that their hard work will pay off.
We know from looking at historical trends that the more there is economic inclusivity, the more stable and therefore the more prosperous and free a country can be. So there are many elements. There are political freedoms, there’s human rights, and on the political side there is the right to be heard, there’s the right of people to contest an election, independent judiciary, a free press. The elements of political freedom are especially important as you grow and stabilize a democracy. And economic growth so the people feel that democracy is delivering for them is also very important.
So it’s hard to pick one thing. You have to look at the whole basis for developing stable, prosperous, free, democratic societies. But I am impressed by the progress that Cambodia is making, but it must continue. It’s hard. The question about – from – one of the very first questions about my political activities as a woman – I’ve also been very criticized for my political beliefs and for what I have stood for. And in our country we have a very vigorous political debate. In fact, some of you know we’re having an election tomorrow. And it is an incredibly vigorous and contentious election system, but we think that it’s to the good because people get to express their opinions and they get to say I don’t believe that or I believe this, which over our history, as the oldest continuing democracy in the world today, has proven to be durable and successful.
So the political side of the freedom equation is very important, as is the economic side, so that people feel like they are seeing improvements in their own lives. So it really does go hand in hand.
Yes, right there.
QUESTION: Thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity to raise a question. First of all, on behalf of the Cambodian people and also (inaudible) the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, I would like to welcome you to Cambodia. And I’m (inaudible) of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, and I would like to (inaudible) the core element of human rights and political freedom is very important for the sustainability of Cambodia, so I would like to know you and the Obama Administration, what will you do about the current prime minister – the Cambodian prime minister’s proposal to close UN (inaudible).
And I understand that now the Obama Administration try to strengthen relationships with the Cambodian – with the government in Southeast Asia region. So what does this new (inaudible) will undermine the human rights assistance to Cambodia or not? Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the United States is absolutely committed to promoting human rights. When you think about the beginning of American history and our founding as a republic, if your read our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, we are a country that was founded on a belief that individuals are created equal, that everyone is entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that there are certain rights that every American has against his government – the right to free expression, the right to worship as you choose, and so on.
So we very much believe in human rights, and it is part of who we are as Americans. And we want to see more countries protect the human rights of their own people. So we raise this in every discussion we have with leaders of every country around the world. Now, different cultures, different histories, different experiences certainly have to be taken into account, and I am respectful of that. The United States’ experience is not Cambodia’s experience, is not China’s experience, is not India’s experience. So you have to recognize there are differences.
But we personally believe that every human being has certain inalienable rights, that there are rights that are universal that should be respected. But different societies will be on different paths to try to achieve that. So we are always urging more freedom, more respect for human rights, and we think being engaged with countries, being partners with countries on issues, is a good way to keep that dialogue going. So even where we disagree with the actions of a country or of a government, we don’t stop talking and we don’t stop working and we don’t stop looking for areas of agreement. Because it is important that you constantly keep the lines of communication open, and I think that’s what we’re doing in this region and around the world.
So we will always face these issues, but there are other important issues as well that we will similarly discuss. And we hope that democratic institutions become stronger in Cambodia and that the space for political expression is big and that people have the rights to be critical of the government, which you know my husband was president and many millions of Americans were critical when he was president. Now President Obama, who inspired so much hope and is such a great symbol of progress in the world, he’s being criticized. That’s what happens in our political system. And we don’t think it makes us weaker. We think it makes us stronger. So we hope that we can convince others to follow that approach. (Applause.)
Oh my goodness, how about this young woman right there in pink?
QUESTION: Thank you for my question. I want to ask you about the process of election in the United States, especially (inaudible) about you and Barack Obama and also your husband in Democratic Party and both of you I think maybe challenging each other to promote which one to become the top one to be the government. So I wonder, the first one – the first one you also – the one who also proposed it. But I remembered at the end you also support Barack Obama to be the government (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a very important point that your question makes and (inaudible) I’d like to describe to you. I ran against Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president. I worked very, very hard. I raised and spent more than $200 million. I tried to beat him. And he won and I lost.
And when he asked me to be in his government, I was surprised. But we talked about it and we decided that it would be important to demonstrate to our country how two people can be opposed to each other but then work with each other for the good of the country. I believe so strongly that at a certain point in every country’s political development, you cannot let politics be personal, you cannot let politics interfere with the good of the country. And so both Barack Obama and I love our country, and that is why we work together. And I am very proud to be his Secretary of State and to represent the United States and the President when I travel and come to a country like Cambodia.
Many people around the world could not understand that. When I first started traveling, I got this question all over the world: How could you work for someone that you so strongly opposed? And it’s because we both love our country, that politics is a means to an end. Politics is supposed to elect people who want to solve problems to help the people of their country. And if you believe that, then you can work with someone who you were politically opposed to in order to solve problems in healthcare or education or the economy or so much else.
So your question is a very important one and what I have seen in many young democracies like Cambodia’s is people get into politics and they get so wrapped up in politics that they can’t imagine how they could work with somebody in the opposition; whereas, I think helping to bring people together on behalf of your country is really the ultimate purpose of politics. You are in politics not just to run for election and win. You are in politics to make a difference to help people. I believe strongly that in my public service I am giving back to my country that gave me so much.
And I think as people really consider that, it’s like what just happened in the United Kingdom. There’s a unity government between the conservatives, or Tories, and the Liberal Democrats. So you have a prime minister from one party, David Cameron, working with a deputy prime minister from another party, Nick Clegg. And they’re making some very hard decisions for their country.
So I think that’s one of the sort of thoughts to keep in mind is how politics is not an end in itself, but it’s a means to an end to improve the lives of the people you serve. (Applause.)
Oh my goodness, how about that gentleman in the back there, right there. Yes, sir, with the glasses and the blue – the gentleman, yes, yes. Oh dear, this is going to take a long time to – I’m sorry – get the microphone there.
QUESTION: First of all, I would like to say hello, madam. (Inaudible) come from (inaudible). I would like to ask you about the question that what is your opinion that (inaudible) Cambodia request USA to cancel the debt, and how about your opinion involved why not and why you should.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not sure I understood your question.
QUESTION: I mean that I need your opinion about Cambodia request U.S. to cancel the debt. The debt, yes.
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, it’s cancel the debt.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The debt?
SECRETARY CLINTON: The old debt? The old debt. Well, I am going to see if we can start a process with the government to try to figure out how to deal with that. So I’m well aware that this is a concern. It’s a concern of mine. So when I meet with the prime minister and the deputy prime minister and foreign minister, I will ask that we begin the discussions again. We haven’t talked about this since 2006, so I want to talk about it and see if we can figure out a way to move forward on it, because I would like to see Cambodia be able to invest its government funding in improving services for the people of Cambodia.
Yes, right there in the corner. Yeah, right there on the aisle. Yes, the gentleman right there. Right there in the blue shirt, yeah.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madam. My name (inaudible) Executive Director of Freedom Cambodia. We work closely in Cambodia, so I heard a lot from you that you’re concerned about Cambodia, you’re concerned about (inaudible) program issues in Cambodia, even (inaudible), even (inaudible). So my question is what is your comment or what are your (inaudible) to help Cambodia, for example, like Cambodians have a lot of (inaudible) substance abuse or (inaudible) young (inaudible). So the (inaudible) so what is the concern of the U.S. for the people in Cambodia? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, one of the reasons I’m here is because both President Obama and I are concerned about the people in Cambodia. We already spend many millions of dollars helping on projects to help the people in Cambodia. I want to know what we can do better, how we can be more useful in working with the Government of Cambodia and individuals and organizations in Cambodia, nongovernmental organizations, for example. Because we can sit in the United States and say, well, we need to help Cambodia deal with HIV/AIDS or deal with the needs for more schools in rural areas or teacher training. We can have a lot of ideas in the United States about how we can help the people of Cambodia, but I think it’s better if we hear from the people of Cambodia and from the Government of Cambodia what is really the priority list.
And so that’s part of what I’m doing here is talking to the government, talking to others – our ambassador reaches out and meets with Cambodians from all walks of life – to really understand what we can do best to help. And we’re going to try to be responsive. And the debt issue, which two of you have raised, is an issue that I’m going to try to address, because I’ve heard about it here in Cambodia.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madam Secretary. I am (inaudible) I am from (inaudible). So I would like to ask you two questions, so I think there are a lot of challenges(inaudible) so I would like you to share about the techniques to (inaudible) and the technique to win the (inaudible) with the negotiations.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I didn’t understand the question.
MODERATOR: He would like to understand what is your skill in order to win the debate and also in negotiations.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, oh, just in general? In general?
QUESTION: Your secret personally (inaudible). (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Lots of practice. Did you know that more people in the world are afraid of public speaking than being attacked by a criminal or dying in a fire? People are very scared to stand up in front of a crowd and speak. Does anybody feel like that sometimes? Yeah? And so it’s like anything in life; if you want to do it, you have to work at it and you have to practice it and you have to impose on your family and your friends so that they can give you a good, constructive criticism.
And in negotiation, I think it’s very important to, number one, understand the position of the other person. Because when you negotiate with someone, if you only are thinking about what you want, you will never understand what the others are looking for. So you have to put yourself into someone else’s shoes – that’s an old expression – to really say, okay, I’m trying to negotiate this, they’re trying to get something from me. How can we make this as much of what’s called a win-win? How can we have an outcome that will give both of us enough to feel like we’ve had a successful negotiation?
Sometimes that’s not possible, but many times it is. And it just takes a lot of practice. There isn’t any shortcuts. And if you’re interested in public life or public speaking or debating or negotiating, read a lot of books about it, look at videos, get information from people, and then practice. And you start off with baby steps and then you can actually go faster and faster over time. And I wish you well if that’s what you want to do.
Yes, way over there in the corner, that young woman right at the end there. Yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Wait, I cannot hear you. Talk right into the microphone.
QUESTION: My name is (inaudible) student of economic (inaudible) institute. I think I ask you your question that our priority need is economic development, so I want to ask you that does USA have any future plans to support the development of Cambodia, especially in investment?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Investment for – foreign investment?
QUESTION: Yeah, foreign. (Applause.) Thank you. I admire you so much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, thank you. The United States will provide government assistance to assist with infrastructure development and economic development projects, but the best way to develop is attracting foreign investment. And in order for foreign investors to come to Cambodia, they have to feel as though the legal system protects their investments, protects their contracts. They have to believe that corruption will not interfere with the ability to make an investment and get a good return on that investment. And improving the business climate in Cambodia, which has been happening, is key to whether or not you will attract a lot of foreign investment.
Now, I think that tourism is a great opportunity for foreign investment. Oil and gas which may be more available off the coastline is something that needs to be explored and there needs to be a lot of competition so that Cambodia gets the best deal that you can get. There are agricultural opportunities for working with small and medium sized farms. There’s a lot of textile companies. The United States is a big textile customer for Cambodia. And if you go back and study this from the 1980s and the 1990s, the United States and Cambodia made a partnership to improve the working conditions of people in the textile factories so that textiles made in Cambodia would be exported into our market and our people would think that it was a good deal to buy the shirt or the pants because the people working in the garment factories were being treated better than they were treated in other countries. So Cambodia does a lot of exporting to the United States because United States customers like the idea of this partnership.
So we will work and our private sector will work to try to figure out new ways to promote foreign investment. And I think it’s – I think Cambodia is just opening up as a market that will track foreign investment. We’ve been going through the global downturn so it hasn’t been the best year, but we’ll get back on our feet and then in the next few years I think you’ll see more foreign investment, assuming that everything in Cambodia continues to develop along the track it’s on now. (Applause.)
Let’s see. My goodness, there’s so many hands, I don’t want to leave anybody out. Okay, there was a – that young man way over there standing against the wall. I can’t even see you barely, but you’re having to stand (inaudible).
QUESTION: I would like to express my deep respect to (inaudible) Secretary of the United States. My name is (inaudible) student in the major of international relations at (inaudible) university. I want to know that in the previous president Bush, he never took care about the Asian region, he never – he always think to take care about Iraq and Afghanistan.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a very interesting question.
QUESTION: But now (inaudible) strong president to take care about Asia region. So what is the main reason that has turned this strong president to think about this area?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me answer it this way. When I became Secretary of State, I worried that people in the Asian region, as you say, did not believe that the United States was as interested as we had been. So my very first trip was to Asia. This is my sixth trip in 20 months to Asia. And on my first trip, I went to Indonesia and I went to Jakarta to the headquarters of ASEAN, and I said that the United States wanted to become more active in ASEAN and the United States under President Obama had signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. I was just in Hanoi, where for the first time the United States attended the East Asia Summit, because we want to be present and working with our Asian friends on these issues.
So if there were any concerns or perceptions about the past, I hope that we have eliminated those. Because both President Obama and I are very committed to America’s role in Asia. In fact, next – at the end of this week, President Obama will go to India, South Korea, Japan, and Indonesia. I will continue from Cambodia to Malaysia and then to Papua New Guinea, then New Zealand and Australia. So we are burning a lot of jet fuel to cover a lot of ground in Asia to very clearly demonstrate that the United States is committed to working with our friends in Asia, we’re committed to helping the people of Asia realize their potential, and we’re going to be a very strong presence in the region for many, many years to come. Thank you. (Applause.)
Oh my goodness, my goodness. Yes, this young lady right there. Yes.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Secretary Clinton. I am very excited that you allow me to ask you a question. And now I have two questions, but first I introduce myself to you. I am from (inaudible) foundation and (inaudible) and I have two questions to ask you. The first one is what do you think about Cambodia-Thai border issue, and the second one is what challenges did you face along the way to becoming Secretary of State? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. What was your first question again?
QUESTION: The first question is what do you think about Cambodia-Thai border issue?
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, it’s the Cambodia –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, Cambodia-Thai border.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think this is an issue that Cambodia and Thailand need to resolve. I think that resolving border problems is in both countries’ interests, and so I hope that there will be renewed efforts to try to do that. And I would urge both countries to work to overcome any concerns along the border.
And to go back to the question about negotiations, look for some ways to break the mold, to find some win-win solutions that can make sure the border is peaceful and that there is trade and commerce and tourism going back and forth, which will help both countries. That’s always to the good because when I was, just yesterday, looking at the magnificent temples in Siem Reap, I was told by several people, including some of the guides that we were with, that nobody now goes to the temple that’s disputed because it’s disputed, whereas money could be earned on both sides of the border if that dispute could be resolved. So I hope it can be.
And with respect to Secretary of State, it’s the most fascinating job. It’s an absolutely wonderful job, because I get to work on very important, difficult problems; I get to represent our country; I get to come to places like Cambodia and talk with all of you. So for me, it has been a very rewarding job. It’s hard. It’s extremely demanding. I probably don’t get enough sleep, and I know that. But it is something that I am very proud to be doing at this point, working with President Obama. So thank you. (Applause.)
Yes, the gentleman right there at the aisle. Right there. Yes.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madam Secretary. I am (inaudible) a student in the (inaudible) in (inaudible) province. Today I am proud that I came up here to ask you a question. I know that America helped Cambodia a lot on education, so my question is that what are your policies to help Cambodia more, a lot more related to education. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Help Cambodia —
QUESTION: I mean that I know that America helped Cambodia a lot on education.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) scholarship to Cambodian students. So my question is that what your – what are your policies to help Cambodians to learn more? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, here are some of our ideas, and I hope that you will let me or our Embassy or some other American institution help. I mean, one thing is we would like to have more student exchanges so that more Cambodian students could come to the United States. We would like more international visitors so that Cambodians who are working in certain areas like in health or education could come to the United States and spend time in our institutions. We would like more fellowship programs so that if you are working, for example, in the Government of Cambodia you could come to the United States and work in our Congress or work in our government. We would like to expand greatly all kinds of exchanges.
We would also like more American universities to be operating programs inside Cambodia so that students who cannot go to the United States could have access to such programs. And we want to do more to help Cambodians, especially young people, learn English. I’ve been very impressed with every question you’ve asked me in English, and I would like to help even more young Cambodians learn English. So we’re looking at ways that we can increase the number of English teachers and opportunities.
So those are some of the ways. And investing in the colleges and universities in Cambodia to help you improve curriculum, improve facilities, improve technology, I think those are also very important and we would like to do that.
But one of the great changes which every one of you knows about is with technology, with your cell phone or with your iPhone or with your iPad or with your computer. You can be connected to the entire world. And the United States wants to put more programs online that would help young people in Cambodia. So we’re looking at all kinds of ideas. If you have ideas, let us know. For example, we just finished working with entrepreneurs in Africa. We sponsored a contest about how to use cell phones to improve agricultural productivity. If you use cell phones, you can get better weather forecasts, you can get better information about the cost of seeds or fertilizer, you can even communicate with veterinarians about – even though you’re in a rural area, what might be wrong with your cattle. There’s so many ways of improving what we do through using technology, and we would like to work with institutions in Cambodia to help do that as well.
So there are lots of ideas about education, not just formal education in classrooms but all kinds of definitions of education that we would be open to exploring to work with you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: As you see, Madam Secretary, I believe we have time for one more question.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh my goodness, one more question and so many hands. Well, I tell you, if you – I’m only going to be able to call on one more person, so if you have questions that you did not get to me, if you get them to the Embassy, we will answer your questions.
Yes, this young lady right there. Yes.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Secretary of State. My name is (inaudible) I come from (inaudible). I am a (inaudible) student in year three. Now I have the question to ask you (inaudible) that Cambodia has the problem – a lot of problem like the corruption and poverty or the violence, and my question I need you to remind us if you were the Cambodian leader, what is your (inaudible) strategy and to solve the problem in Cambodia (inaudible) the situation of Cambodia (inaudible). (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, your leaders have to address your problems. I was very pleased that the government recently passed an anti-corruption law. I am very hopeful that it will be implemented and enforced. Corruption is a big problem around the world. But in a developing country that has so much potential as Cambodia, it can undercut the ability and the ambition of people. They feel like they could work very hard but they would not get ahead. So corruption can actually stand in the way of development, and I hope that the government here will be working on that.
I also was pleased that your government recently passed a law against human trafficking. This is a modern form of slavery and it affects millions of people around the world. And it is something that is just horrible. I mean, I look at all of you; I see these very bright and attractive young people, young men and young women. And the idea that somebody might come and snatch you off the street or kidnap you and put you in forced labor or put you in the sex trade would be heartbreaking to your family and to anyone who knows you. And so we all need to do more to prevent that, and the Government of Cambodia has made some important steps in that direction.
Every government has to be held accountable, including my own. Every government has to be held to a high standard, including my own. And I hope that the people of Cambodia and the Government of Cambodia chart an agenda that you will follow to strengthen your democratic institutions, to strengthen your economy, to strengthen your education system, because I would like to come back in years ahead and see a lot of progress in Cambodia. And the progress will really depend upon the opportunities that all of you feel you have. So I am hoping that the people of Cambodia will have very high standards for what you want for yourselves, and then you will in turn encourage and demand your government, because that’s the way it works. That’s how governments are supposed to be influenced and held accountable.
So I am very optimistic about Cambodia. I think that you have proven to be a resilient, courageous people under very difficult, painful challenges. So my hope is that you will keep forging ahead and that Cambodia will get stronger, more prosperous, and lead by example, not only here for your own people but in this region. And I wish you all the very best in your own lives. Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)
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