US Vice President Kamala Harris’s trip to Asia comes as Washington faces fresh questions over its dependability amid the US pullout from Afghanistan and Taliban takeover – Copyright POOL/AFP EVELYN HOCKSTEIN
US Vice President Kamala Harris accused Beijing on Tuesday of intimidation in hotly disputed waters as she sought to rally Asian allies against China and shore up US credibility in the wake of the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Her remarks in Singapore were made by Washington as it seeks to rebuild relations in Asia following the turbulent Donald Trump era.
But her trip to the region also includes a stop at Vietnam as Washington faces new questions about its reliability amid the US pullout in Afghanistan and Taliban takeover.
In a speech outlining her administration’s foreign policy goals Harris reiterated Washington’s “enduring commitments in Asia” and targeted China.
“Beijing continues coerce, intimidate, and to make claims to a vast majority of South China Sea,” she stated.
“Beijing continues to undermine the rules-based order, and threaten the sovereignty nations.
” The United States stands with its allies and partners in the face these threats .”
– “Right, courageous” –
China claims almost the entire resource-rich sea through which trillions in shipping trade passes each year, with competing claims by four Southeast Asian states and Taiwan.
Beijing was accused of deploying a variety of military hardware, including anti-ship missiles and surface-to air missiles, there. It also ignored a 2016 international tribunal ruling that declared its historical claim to most of the waters without basis.
Tensions have increased in recent months between Beijing, and rival claimants.
Manila was furious after hundreds of Chinese boats were seen inside the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines. Malaysia scrambled fighter planes to intercept any Chinese military aircraft flying off its coast.
Harris was the latest high-ranking official to visit the region under President Joe Biden. Last month, Lloyd Austin, the Pentagon chief, strongly criticized China’s sea claims while on a trip to Singapore.
But the Afghan crisis and doubts over US credibility are casting a long shadow on Harris’s visit.
In Tuesday’s speech she defended Biden’s decision to continue with the US pullout in Afghanistan as courageous and right and reiterated that US officials were “laser-focused” on the chaotic evacuation of Kabul airport.
She will meet with business leaders in Singapore later Tuesday to discuss supply chain issues, including the global shortage of microchips, before heading to Hanoi.