Kamala Harris accuses China of 'intimidation' in disputed seas

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • US Vice President Kamala Harris says China is coercing nations in the South China Sea.
  • She is in the region to reset relations with Asia.
  • Harris insisted that the US was committed to allies in the region.


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 comments in Singapore came as Washington seeks to reset relations in Asia after the turbulent Donald Trump era and build a bulwark against the rising might of Beijing.

READ | Kamala Harris visits Singapore to deepen ties, counter China's influence

But her trip to the region, which also includes a stop in Vietnam, comes as Washington faces fresh questions over its dependability amid the US pullout from Afghanistan and Taliban takeover.

In a speech laying out her administration's foreign policy goals, Harris reiterated that Washington had "enduring commitments" in Asia - and took aim at China.

"Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea," she said.

"Beijing's actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations.

"The United States stands with our allies and partners in the face of these threats."

Claims

China claims almost all of the resource-rich sea, through which trillions of dollars in shipping trade passes annually, with competing claims from four Southeast Asian states as well as Taiwan.

Beijing has been accused of deploying a range of military hardware including anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles there, and ignored a 2016 international tribunal decision that declared its historical claim over most of the waters to be without basis.

Tensions have escalated in recent months between Beijing and rival claimants.

Manila was angered after hundreds of Chinese boats were spotted inside the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone, while Malaysia scrambled fighter jets to intercept Chinese military aircraft that appeared off its coast.

Harris is the latest top official from US President Joe Biden's administration to visit the region. On a trip to Singapore in July, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin also strongly criticised China's sea claims.

But the Afghan crisis and doubts about US credibility are casting a long shadow over Harris's visit.

In Tuesday's speech, she defended Biden's decision to push ahead with the US pullout from Afghanistan as "courageous and right" and reiterated US officials were "laser-focused" on the chaotic evacuation from Kabul airport.

She will hold talks later on Tuesday with business leaders in Singapore on supply chain issues, including the global microchip shortage, before heading to Hanoi.

We want to hear your views on the news. Subscribe to News24 to be part of the conversation in the comments section of this article.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Rand - Dollar
15.41
-0.1%
Rand - Pound
20.95
+0.2%
Rand - Euro
17.53
+0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.08
+0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.2%
Gold
1,816.92
-0.1%
Silver
23.39
+1.6%
Palladium
1,906.00
+1.5%
Platinum
985.00
+0.9%
Brent Crude
86.48
+0.5%
Top 40
68,240
-0.9%
All Share
74,913
-0.9%
Resource 10
74,407
-0.4%
Industrial 25
94,303
-1.3%
Financial 15
15,331
-1.1%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE