Harris rebukes China in major speech on Indo-Pacific

Singapore, Aug 24 (AP):
US Vice President Kamala Harris delivered a sharp rebuke to China for its incursions in the South China Sea, warning its actions there amount to ‘coercion’ and ‘intimidation’ and affirming that the US 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,’ she said in a major foreign policy speech Tuesday in Singapore in which she laid out the Biden administration’s vision for the Indo-Pacific. ‘Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations.’
Harris, who is on a weeklong swing through Southeast Asia, declared that the US ‘stands with our allies and our partners’ in the face of threats from China.
The speech sought to cement the US commitment to supporting its allies in an area of growing importance to the Biden administration, which has made countering China’s influence globally a centerpiece of its foreign policy. And it came during a critical moment for the United States, as the Biden administration seeks 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.
Harris underscored this shift, calling the Indo-Pacific ‘critically important to our nation’s security and prosperity.’ She said that while the US is focused on closing out its Afghanistan engagement by evacuating as many people as possible, ‘it is also imperative that as we address developments in one region, we continue to advance our interests in other regions, including this region.’
Her rebuke to Beijing amounted to her sharpest comments yet on the US foe. And China hit back, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin invoking Afghanistan in his response to a question about Harris’ comments, saying the messy withdrawal from Kabul showed the US had lost credibility. He charged that the US ‘can smear, suppress, coerce, and bully other countries at will in order to maintain America first, without paying any price.’
‘This is the order that the US wants. The US always tries to make use of the rules and order to justify its own selfish, bullying and hegemonic behavior, but who still believe it now?’ Wang said.
In her remarks, Harris was careful to emphasize that the US is seeking greater engagement in the Indo-Pacific region not just to counter China, but to advance an ‘optimistic vision that we have for our participation and partnership in the region.’ In deference to Singapore’s staunch neutrality in the US-China dispute, Harris also affirmed that the US isn’t looking to ‘make anyone choose between countries.’ Speaking in a country that serves as the anchor of the US naval presence in Southeast Asia, Harris emphasized the significance the region holds for US defense. She also emphasized the significant US economic ties there, noting that Southeast Asia represents America’s fourth largest export market. Harris told sailors aboard a US combat ship at the Changi naval base in Singapore that ‘a big part of the history of the 21st century will be written about this very region’ and that their work defending the region was pivotal.
‘It is in our vital interest to stand united with our allies and our partners in Southeast Asia in defense of a free and open Indo-Pacific,’ she said.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button