Sec. Chertoff finished his ten-day trip to Asia with meetings in Beijing on Monday and Tuesday, as reported in articles from the UPI, the Shanghai Daily, and the People’s Daily Online. From the UPI story:
Speaking to reporters in Beijing on the last leg of his trip which included stops in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, Secretary Chertoff said the ‘bottom line’ was every place he visited shared ‘common interest with the United States in fighting terrorism which threatens all of our values, whether they be values in the American continents or the Asian continent.’
Chertoff characterized discussions on Monday and Tuesday with Chinese officials as ‘very good’ and having made ‘productive results in a lot of areas of mutual concern.’
‘We`ve been able to reach some agreements in principle on matters of common interest and have taken some big steps along the path of continuing law enforcement cooperation,’ he noted.
The article goes on to detail the key areas of discussion between Chertoff and his Chinese counterparts, which included cargo security, counterterrorism cooperation, and the repatriation of illegal Chinese immigrants. That last issue has been an increasingly sticky one for DHS in recent months, viewed as a barrier toward the Department’s goal to end the “catch-and-release” policy for illegal immigrants. The two governments didn’t resolve this issue, but the Shanghai Daily story notes that “Washington and Beijing are close to reaching an agreement that could lead to the repatriation of thousands of Chinese illegal immigrants in the United States.”
Beyond that, the meetings with Chinese officials evidently didn’t deliverable any significant and tangible policy outcomes – but that’s to be expected. The important outcome from this trip is that DHS has strengthened its web of trust with its foreign counterpart agencies, in a way that will facilitate informal cooperation and information-sharing on a range of issues. This could eventually lead to more formal ties, but that’s a secondary objective.
Overall, this seems like it was a useful and productive trip for Chertoff, and hopefully a useful building block for increased cooperation with Asia on homeland security issues.