MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the 21st century the "new era of engagement in Asia."
"The world's strategic and economic center of gravity will be the Asia-Pacific, from the Indian sub-continent to the western shores of the Americas," she said.
Clinton said trends point to Asia, home to half the world's population and fast growing economies. The Obama administration wants to lock in diplomatic, economic and strategic investment there, now that war spending is subsiding.
"We can redirect some of those investments to opportunities and obligations elsewhere, " Clinton said. "Asia stands out as a region where opportunities abound."
"In the past it was the trans-Atlantic focus, but she said this century is going to be America's Pacific," Hawaii Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said.
Clinton told about 200 attendees at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting at the East-West Center that America's tight economy will lead some to criticize increased trade and investment in Asia. She said that thinking is mistaken.
"We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and leave it to others to determine our future for us," she said.
Clinton said the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement gives America momentum, as do talks to form a free trade group with eight other countries.
"We can lift lives in even greater numbers," she said.
Clinton said the 21st century will be "America's Pacific Century," and the pivot point begins now.