Kamala Harris says Asia won’t have to choose between U.S. and China

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivers a speech on August 24, 2021 at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore earlier than departing for Vietnam on the second leg of her Asia journey.

Evelyn Hockstein | AFP | Getty Photographs

SINGAPORE — Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday known as out Beijing’s actions within the South China Sea, and sought to guarantee nations in Asia that they will not have to decide on between the U.S. and China.

“We all know that Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate and to make claims to the overwhelming majority of South China Sea,” Harris mentioned in a speech in Singapore throughout her first official visit to Southeast Asia.

“These illegal claims have been rejected by the 2016 arbitral tribunal determination, and Beijing’s actions proceed to undermine the principles primarily based order and threaten the sovereignty of countries,” she added. “The US stands with our allies and companions within the face of those threats.”

China claims almost your entire South China Sea — however a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration dismissed that declare as legally baseless in 2016.

The South China Sea is resource-rich waterway that is a significant business delivery route the place trillions of {dollars} of world commerce move by way of every year. Along with China, different territorial claimants within the sea embody Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

However Beijing ignored the tribunal ruling and in the previous couple of years, even elevated its presence by deploying vessels to patrol the waters and constructing synthetic islands.

Harris mentioned the U.S. needs to advertise a free and open Indo-Pacific — a area that broadly refers back to the space that lies between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

U.S.-China competitors

Harris assured nations within the area that the U.S. won’t make them choose between Washington and Beijing.

“I should be clear: Our engagement in Southeast Asia and Indo-Pacific shouldn’t be in opposition to anyone nation, neither is it designed to make anybody select between nations,” she mentioned.

The vp additionally pressured that the U.S. stays dedicated to the area, whilst President Joe Biden confronted criticism over how he dealt with the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan. She reiterated her touch upon Monday that the U.S. is “laser focused” on evacuation efforts.

Harris arrived in Singapore on Sunday and is scheduled to go away for Vietnam on Tuesday afternoon, earlier than departing the area on Thursday. Her go to to the area adopted a number of high-level U.S. engagements with Southeast Asian leaders.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken attended digital conferences of the Affiliation of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, earlier this month; whereas Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin visited a number of nations within the area in July, together with Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines.

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