Harris rebukes China in major speech on Indo-Pacific

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SINGAPORE (AP) — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivered a crisp rebuke to China for its incursions successful the South China Sea, informing its actions determination magnitude to “coercion” and “intimidation” and affirming that the U.S. volition enactment its allies successful the portion against Beijing’s advances.

“We cognize that Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate and to marque claims to the immense bulk of the South China Sea,” she said successful a large overseas argumentation code Tuesday successful Singapore successful which she laid retired the Biden administration’s imaginativeness for the Indo-Pacific. “Beijing’s actions proceed to undermine the rules-based bid and endanger the sovereignty of nations.”

Harris, who is connected a weeklong plaything done Southeast Asia, declared that the U.S. “stands with our allies and our partners” successful the look of threats from China.

The code sought to cement the U.S. committedness to supporting its allies successful an country of increasing value to the Biden administration, which has made countering China’s power globally a centerpiece of its overseas policy. And it came during a captious infinitesimal for the United States, arsenic the Biden medication seeks to further solidify its pivot toward Asia portion America’s decades-long absorption connected the Middle East comes to a messy extremity with the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Harris underscored this shift, calling the Indo-Pacific “critically important to our nation’s information and prosperity.” She said that portion the U.S. is focused connected closing retired its Afghanistan engagement by evacuating arsenic galore radical arsenic possible, “it is besides imperative that arsenic we code developments successful 1 region, we proceed to beforehand our interests successful different regions, including this region.”

Her rebuke to Beijing amounted to her sharpest comments yet connected the U.S. foe. And China deed back, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin invoking Afghanistan successful his effect to a question astir Harris’ comments, saying the messy withdrawal from Kabul showed the U.S. had mislaid credibility. He charged that the U.S. “can smear, suppress, coerce, and bully different countries astatine volition successful bid to support America first, without paying immoderate price.”

“This is the bid that the U.S. wants. The U.S. ever tries to marque usage of the rules and bid to warrant its ain selfish, bullying and hegemonic behavior, but who inactive judge it now?” Wang said.

In her remarks, Harris was cautious to stress that the U.S. is seeking greater engagement successful the Indo-Pacific portion not conscionable to antagonistic China, but to beforehand an “optimistic imaginativeness that we person for our information and concern successful the region.” In deference to Singapore’s staunch neutrality successful the U.S.-China dispute, Harris besides affirmed that the U.S. isn’t looking to “make anyone take betwixt countries.”

Speaking successful a state that serves arsenic the anchor of the U.S. naval beingness successful Southeast Asia, Harris emphasized the value the portion holds for U.S. defense. She besides emphasized the important U.S. economical ties there, noting that Southeast Asia represents America’s 4th largest export market.

On Monday, Harris told sailors aboard a U.S. combat vessel astatine the Changi naval basal successful Singapore that “a large portion of the past of the 21st period volition beryllium written astir this precise region” and that their enactment defending the portion was pivotal.

“It is successful our captious involvement to basal agreed with our allies and our partners successful Southeast Asia successful defence of a escaped and unfastened Indo-Pacific,” she said.

Harris besides met Monday with Singapore President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The vice president’s bureau announced a fig of agreements retired of that meeting aimed astatine combating cyberthreats, tackling clime change, addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and alleviating proviso concatenation issues.

After her code Tuesday, Harris held a roundtable treatment with concern leaders connected proviso concatenation issues. Later, she planned to question to Vietnam, wherever she’ll conscionable with apical officials Wednesday.

President Joe Biden himself has repeatedly emphasized his absorption connected China arsenic 1 of America’s main adversaries. In caller months, his medication has ramped up outreach to the Indo-Pacific region, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman some visiting the country successful the outpouring and summer. Secretary of State Antony Blinken besides held a fig of virtual meetings with Southeast Asian officials earlier this month.

The chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, however, analyzable that connection of enactment to the region, raising questions astir the U.S. committedness to its allies. While Biden said past week that an indefinite engagement would person benefited “true strategical competitors” China and Russia, China has seized connected the images of unit from the evacuation to slam the U.S. for its engagement there.

But Harris, during a associated quality league with Prime Minister Lee connected Monday, said that her beingness successful the country, combined with the agreements astir greater practice that the Biden medication has pursued with Indo-Pacific countries, talk “volumes successful presumption of the integrity of the relationships that the United States has astir the satellite connected galore issues.”

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