SINGAPORE (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris delivered a sharp rebuke to China for its incursions in the South China Sea during a speech in Singapore on Tuesday.
She warned that China’s actions there amount to coercion and intimidation, and she affirmed that the U.S. will support its allies in the region against Beijing’s advances.
“We know that Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate, and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea,” said Harris. “These unlawful claims have been rejected by the 2016 arbitral tribunal decision. And Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations.”
Harris also highlighted America’s trade relationships in Southeast Asia.
“Collectively, the nations of Southeast Asia represent our nation’s fourth-largest export market – a vibrant and dynamic market which will soon rank among the biggest markets in the world,” she said. “Our trade relationships in Southeast Asia support more than 600,000 American jobs. And now, with an eye toward the future, we are strengthening our economic engagement.”
After speaking about the U.S. efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic, Harris ended her speech by speaking about Burma.
“The United States remains deeply alarmed by the military coup in Burma,” she said. “We condemn the campaign of violent repression. And we are committed to supporting the people there as they work to return their nation to the path of democracy. And we do hope that nations throughout the Indo-Pacific will join us in that effort.”
The Biden administration is seeking to further solidify its pivot toward Asia while America’s decades-long focus on the Middle East comes to a messy end with the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
This week, Harris is visiting Singapore and Vietnam with the goal of strengthening U.S. ties in the region.