September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Secretary Colin L. Powell Remarks at Business Event Shanghai, People’s Republic of China; October 18, 2001

Remarks at Business Event

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Shanghai, People’s Republic of China
October 18, 2001

U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE REPRESENTATIVE: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. It is a pleasure for all of us to be here. This event never would have happened without the full cooperation of each member of the US-APEC Business Coalition, the US-China Business Council, the Pacific Basin Economic Council, the National Center for APEC, the US-ASEAN Business Council, and the US National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation. The Chamber is privileged to be a member of such a prestigious group. I have the distinct pleasure of welcoming a very special guest this afternoon, one of President Bush’s most trusted advisors and a leader in this world in the fight against terrorism.

Secretary Colin Powell needs no formal introduction to the people in this room. A Vietnam War hero, a mastermind of the quick and decisive Persian Gulf War, Secretary Powell spent the better part of his life protecting freedom, democracy and free enterprise. Once again, in a time of need, the country has called upon the Secretary for his leadership in the war against terrorism and he has not let us down. He has demonstrated that diplomacy is every bit as important as political issues and his intelligence in law enforcement and financial and military tools required for this new type of warfare. The effort to capture terrorists requires a coordinated campaign, not only within the US government, but also with government and law enforcement officials in countries all around the world. And only a man with the respect and admiration that the Secretary enjoys around the world is able to so quickly bring the different nations together in pursuit of a common goal.

Mr. Secretary, I want to assure you that the US business community and our colleagues around the world stand one hundred percent behind the Administration’s efforts to eliminate terrorism and bring these criminals to justice. Just as business responded to the tragedy of September 11, with donations and reconstruction efforts and relief for victims and their families, we stand united with government in a response to terrorism and to the strengthening of our economy. At home the business community strongly supports the efforts to bolster national defense and homeland security, to beef up our intelligence capabilities and to improve airline security. Outside of our borders, we support the deployment of US troops in the use of any and all force required to snuff out terrorism. With President Bush, Colin Powell and the rest of the President’s cabinet leading the way, we know we can win this battle.

And on a personal level, let me express my respect and my appreciation for your support and friendship and your encouragement for the Chamber and perhaps more important than all of this, your long encouragement for the young people of our country. It came in a little red wagon. It is my honor, ladies and gentlemen, to introduce the Secretary of State of the United States, Colin Powell.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, Tom, for that very kind and generous introduction. I especially thank you for the endorsement that you gave on behalf of your colleagues to the efforts of President Bush and the members of his team and to this grand coalition we are forming to pursue terrorism and to win this battle, because it is a battle that is worthy of being fought and it is a battle that we must win. I especially thank you for your personal friendship over the years and as you said a nice word about what I was doing for young people, you and your organization were right there with us and I deeply appreciate that as well.

It is very nice to look out over this audience and see so many friendly faces and welcome to all of you and thank you for having me here for just a short period of time. What I would like to do is just talk for a little bit and then we will turn it over to questions and answers for most of the time we have available.

I am pleased to be here as sort of the advance guard for President Bush. He is winging his way here as we sit, and I know that everybody’s looking forward to seeing him as he makes his first visit to Asia as President.

For me to be back in Shanghai is a very exciting experience. I first came to this city in 1973. I was a young lieutenant colonel in the United States Army. It was a few months after President Nixon had made his historic visit to China and I was one of the first Army officers of the United States Armed Forces who was allowed back into China. There were six military officers in my group -- three Army, three Air Force – and we were something of a curiosity in China at that time as you can well imagine, and we were very well escorted, I might also say, at that time (Laughter). But to come back now and to land as I did last night and to drive into the city and to see what has happened, not in the past 28 or 29 years, but really just in the last 12 or 13 years, is absolutely remarkable. To think back to 1973 as a young lieutenant colonel and talking to many Chinese citizens who we had some access to and asking them what their greatest ambition was, what their aspiration was for their families, for their children, for their future, and they said, a sewing machine, a bicycle, and an AM radio. That was it. They were all on bicycles.

I remember going up into the mountains way north of here and meeting with a group of villagers who were taking this terraced hill and fixing it, just terracing it, so they could grow a little bit of rice. The rains would come unexpectedly and wash it all back down, and the next day they would start up again, just stacking rocks one on top of the other. And then going on the other side of the mountain and bringing soil over to this side of the mountain. This driving spirit that was there and has been in this country for so many, many years, waiting to be released, waiting to be turned loose, waiting for the opportunities to do great things for this country. And to come back here some almost 30 years later – I’ve only been back once in those intervening 30 years – to come back here this long time later and to see what’s been accomplished is just remarkable.

It has been accomplished by enlightened political leadership. It has been accomplished by enlightened economic policy. It has been accomplished by the driving spirit of the Chinese people. It has been accomplished by leaders such as you. Business leaders such as you, who are willing to come here and to see the possibilities, see the prospects, see the opportunities, and invest. It was also accomplished, never let us forget, by American consumers. American consumers who need the products that come from China. American consumers who are not in the upper salary levels, but who are making 20, 25, 30 thousand dollars a year and go into – I will not name individual chains because it always gets me in trouble, either because I have named or because I did not name you, but – who go into stores that cater to them and will sell them products that they can afford that will help them make their ends meet. And so it works both ways.

This city has been built by Chinese labor and Chinese creativity and Chinese energy, but also because lines of trade and lines of communication and this economic openness existed between our two nations which allowed American consumers and consumers elsewhere in the world to benefit from what is happening here in Shanghai and in so many other parts of China, as well. It benefits all of us, and it has to be pressed and pursued and continued in every possible way to make sure that the wealth we see in Shanghai and some of the other cities in China is expanded throughout the society.

The Chinese leadership cannot rest and we cannot rest along with them until what we see here really is reflected throughout the entire society of 1.2 or three billion people. What they have learned, and what we have known all along, is that when you generate wealth, when you create wealth, that wealth can be used not only to build great cities, but to provide an education for rural children, to provide a roof over someone’s head, a school, a well, an opportunity to perhaps put in a more efficient crop or rotate crops. All kinds of things can happen but only if you have the wealth that will allow you to do that.

So I congratulate you for what you have done, and I certainly congratulate the Chinese leadership for what they have accomplished in these years. We have an excellent relationship with China right now and I think as a result of President Bush’s visit the relationship will grow and improve and thrive. He is very much looking forward to meeting with President Jiang Zemin tomorrow.

People have tried to capture this relationship in one or two specific terms. Are they an enemy to be? Are they a strategic competitor? And what I discovered early on in my tenure as Secretary of State, I think all of us in the Administration now understand that the relationship is much too complex to try to capture in a single term or slogan that everybody can use say, aha, that’s it. No, that is not it. Much too complex. The basis of the relationship, I think, is increasingly of an economic nature. When people say to me, what is the most important thing going on with China right now -- 40 percent of their exports are coming through the United States of America. That is something that they will think twice about with respect to putting that at risk. Does that mean that all is well, that we share all their values, and we have no disagreements with them? Of course not. It means that two strong, powerful nations, both of which have a place in this world, both of which are Asia-Pacific nations, can talk to one another, and if there is a basis of trust, if there is a common understanding of each other’s interests, we can pursue those areas where we aren’t in agreement and make good things happen. And when we disagree we can disagree openly and candidly, face-to-face.

So we are not reluctant to say to the Chinese government that we have concerns about human rights issues in China. We will always express those concerns to you because that is part of our value system and we would not be Americans if we did not try to convey to you what we feel strongly about, what our value system’s about. We also are going to talk to you about issues having to do with proliferation of certain kinds of materials or weapons to other nations where we think this is not in the best interest of our relationship, not in the best interest of the world community. It would be irresponsible of us to be reluctant to speak to you candidly about that if we are going to have the kind of relationship that allows us to move forward as two responsible nations moving forward.

So there is no reason for us to become enemies. The United States is not looking for enemies. We don’t want any enemies, don’t need any enemies. By heavens when they show up we will protect ourselves and we will defend ourselves and we will defeat our enemies.

We meet at an interesting time, some five weeks after the tragedy that took place in New York and Washington and in a field in Pennsylvania. Five weeks after we saw thousands of our fellow Americans killed, but we also saw hundreds and hundreds of non-Americans killed at the World Trade Center. It was a World Trade Center. And some 80 countries lost citizens. Five hundred Muslims were killed in the World Trade Center on the 11th of September. For anyone to say, well it was just at attack against America. Wrong. It was an attack against the world. It was an attack against civilization. It was an attack against the values that we believe in -- those basic human values. Anybody perpetrating such an act cannot be seen as a hero, cannot be seen as someone who believes in a faith or is practicing any known faith. There is no faith on the face of the earth that tolerates such action and would endorse such action. America and the grand coalition that has formed around President Bush’s leadership, is making this case to the world. I think we are making it rather effectively.

We have known about terrorism before. We have seen it as something that happens elsewhere – happens in the Middle East all the time – and we saw it tragically happen again yesterday. It happens in far away places and we can see it on our television sets and then it started to get a little closer to home. It happened in Oklahoma City, and it wasn’t some foreigner, it was one of our own. An American who did that and killed so many of his fellow Americans out of some weird sense of lack of accountability. Who knows what went through Timothy McVeigh’s mind as he went through the process of deciding this is something that he should do? We will defend ourselves, and we will defeat our enemies. We saw it also at the World Trade Center back in 1993.

This time it was foreigners who were coming to us, but we have never seen anything quite like this. We have never seen anything quite like this which brought it home to us in such a powerful and tragic way, and which had effect beyond, well beyond, just the incident. Who would have thought that a terrorist act, or three terrorist acts on that one day could affect the entire world’s economy? Yet that is what is happening.

Look what else has happened that causes us to tremble and be concerned. We all worry about cyber-terrorism. If I went around the room and asked each and every one of you, how much have you spent on protecting yourself from cyber-terrorism? -- I’m sure I’d come up with a figure that was in the hundreds of millions of dollars. What did they get us with? The mail system. The mail system! Anthrax or just talcum powder. It causes panic. The mail system doesn’t need the airways to get to you, and it goes to every single home, every single office, every single place on earth. Now we are concerned about that. And so, we are in a new era of terrorism.

The 11th of September will always be known as a unique day in history. It was before 9/11 and after 9/11. I was in Lima, Peru when it happened. I was with President Toledo getting ready for a meeting of the Organization of American States when the note was handed to me. I looked at it and realized that this was not an accident. Got on my plane and flew back to the United States, arriving seven hours later and meeting with the President immediately. By the middle of the next day we knew that we had to respond to this terrible, terrible day not just by going after the perpetrators of events of that day, but by going after terrorism. President Bush understood early on that once we started down this road we had to stay on this road, and we have to go after terrorism wherever it existed around the world. It couldn’t just be the terrorism that came to America on that day. It had to be the terrorism that exists throughout the world. The coalition he’s pulling together is for that purpose.

I cannot tell you how pleased we are at the response we received from the international community. Today, earlier this morning at the APEC meeting, I got a resounding signal of support from all the members present, and President Bush will get the same signal when he meets with those leaders over the weekend. I’m enormously pleased about the way in which the United Nations responded, almost immediately, with a resolution out of the Security Council and a resolution out of the General Assembly, saying that this is unacceptable, we condemn it, and we will now take action against it.

NATO, for the first time in its history, invoking Article 5, which says that an attack against one is an attack against all, and we will all respond in a manner that each of us finds appropriate. The Rio Treaty invoked, the ANZUS Treaty invoked, the Organization of African Unity, the Organization of the Islamic Conference just the other day. Fifty-six Islamic countries coming together and condemning this, not saying that it is some manifestation of Islam, it’s saying quite the contrary, Islam does not support anything like this, Usama bin Laden is a criminal and is to be seen as a criminal, not as some sort of a hero or freedom fighter.

So this coalition came together and then the work began. The work began with, let’s make sure that we understand we are going to attack on a broad front. It is going to be financial -- go after the money that funds these people, start to cut it off. The UN responded quickly, the President signed an Executive Order and that work is well underway.

Some one hundred countries have now committed themselves to doing what is necessary to stop terrorist funding, and more will come along as we go forward. There is a legal aspect to it; making sure that we have laws in place that bring these kinds of people to justice quickly, and that we have empowered our law enforcement officials so that they can take on this new threat.

There is an intelligence component to this campaign, making sure that all the nations of the world that have information about these individuals start to share it in a more effective way, and I can tell you that after one month we have seen an enormous, enormous degree of success with this; with people being picked up, people being stopped. People that we didn’t know about suddenly being identified for us by other nations and allowing us to take action against them. Many of these stories I cannot describe to you because of the way in which they were done, maybe later, but not right now. And so there’s been a great response on the intelligence-sharing aspect of it. Public diplomacy, political action and, of course, military action.

Right now, we are watching as our proud men and women in uniform both from the United States, the United Kingdom, and other nations joining the military part of the campaign and taking the battle to Al Qaeda and Usama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

And taking the battle to the Taliban regime, which has given them haven, which has given them support, which has given them the friendly sea they needed in which to swim.

These people are invaders in Afghanistan. They didn’t come to Afghanistan to help the people of Afghanistan. They didn’t come to Afghanistan so they could bring money to Afghanistan, and then use that money to help impoverished Muslims in other parts of the world. No, they came to Afghanistan for one single purpose; to invade that country, be a foreign presence, a hostile presence in Afghanistan so they could conduct terrorist activities around the world. They’ve got to be stopped. The military campaign will be pursued until we do that.

But it is not just Afghanistan. We’ve got to rip up all elements of the Al Qaeda network. And we’re going to do that. But it’s going to take time. As President Bush has said repeatedly, he intends to be patient, he intends to be persistent, he understands that this is a battle that is going to take a long time to unfold. It is a campaign that will take a long time to execute. It is a war in which we have to have patience. Sometimes there will be immediate great successes, and sometimes there will be quiet successes you know nothing about. But the one thing I am absolutely sure of is the President is determined, and he is encouraged and given greater inspiration in his determination by the responses he has received from leaders around the world.

In this tragedy, there are also opportunities. We are going to try to make the best of those opportunities. Nobody’s calling us unilateral anymore. That’s kind of gone away for the time being. We’re so multilateral it keeps me up twenty-four hours a day checking on everybody (Laughter). Nobody accuses of that anymore. They can see that America is prepared to be a leader in this new campaign against a threat that is against all of civilization.

But you know we will come back from this. We will prevail. We can’t let this kind of activity hold us back or hold us down. We are better than that. We are stronger than that. We have spines of steel. We have been challenged before and overcome those challenges. We will overcome those challenges now. And you have to do your job. We have to restore confidence in our economies. We have to make sure our people understand that they have to get on with life. We can’t walk around afraid. We’re not an afraid people.

So it is so important for you to keep doing what you’re doing; keep investing, keep opening up avenues of opportunities for increased trade, keep destroying barriers. Let’s move quickly. We want to see China and Taiwan enter the World Trade Organization. We need to see the next round get started or launched. We need to keep moving forward. We need to restore confidence in the world’s economies, but especially in the American economy. We have a strong economy; it will come back. It may take a little bit of time, but it will come back. It will come back because of who we are. People who believe in themselves, people who believe in the promise of democracy and the free enterprise system, and believe in the fundamental values of human rights and human dignity. A value system that is increasingly being copied by nations around the world, at their own pace and in their own manner, and consistent with their own history and culture over time.

China has seen what can happen when you start to move in this direction. I am one of those who firmly believe the more they see of it, the more they will gain an appreciation for the rule of law and fundamental human rights for all citizens, and they will be encouraged to continue moving in that direction. The nations of the world that adopt these values, consistent with their own history and culture, respecting the rights of their people, taking care of their people, investing in their people, getting ready for this twenty first century world, those nations will progress and move forward. Those that do not, the Iraqs of the world, the North Koreas of the world, remaining transfixed in some past life, will find themselves being left further and further behind.

The Russian president will be coming this weekend. Yesterday, he announced that they are going to get rid of the listening station in Cuba, and their base in Cam Ranh Bay. Not only is the Cold War over, the post-Cold War period is also over. As part of the new strategic opportunity, there’s a new strategic opportunity to work with Russia.

And so I think at this time of tragedy, at this time of anxiety, we should see the promise that is before us. I’m absolutely convinced that to achieve this promise will require the work not just of politicians and diplomats, not just of strong-bodied workers around the world, but of creative leaders such as you, who are continuing to spread the word about free-market economics, spread the word about free trade, spread the word about dropping barriers, spread the word about what good can come from open access to information, to markets, and the ability to take a chance, the ability to take risk, the ability to go as far as you can go, limited only by your own ambitions and your willingness to work. That’s what we hope for all societies, and I can assure you that America will continue to try to be that model for the world – as my old boss and buddy Ronald Reagan used to say, "that shining city on the hill," an inspiration for all nations who wish to share in the kind of success and wealth that we have enjoyed.

Thank you very much.


Released on October 18, 2001

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