Harris vows US support for ASEAN allies amid Chinese ‘threats’

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Aug 24 (EFE).- The vice president of the United States warned China on Tuesday that the US will support its allies in Southeast Asia in the face of Beijing’s “threats” to countries with whom it has territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

“Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations. The US stands with our allies and partners in face of these threats,” Kamala Harris said in reference to China’s actions near the Spratly and Paracel islands, which it disputes with five countries in the region.

Harris was speaking in Singapore, where she kicked off a tour of Southeast Asia on Sunday that will take her later in the day to Vietnam, one of the five countries that disputes territories with China in the South China Sea, along with the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

In recent years, China has built facilities on artificial islands in the South China Sea, which has caused concern in neighboring countries and in the US, which calls for free navigation throughout the region.

“We know that Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea. These unlawful claims have been rejected by a 2016 arbitral tribunal decision,” Harris said in reference to a ruling by an international court in The Hague in favor of the Philippines over a disputed atoll in those waters.

Despite her remarks against Beijing’s actions, the US vice president clarified that the US’ “engagement in Southeast Asia is not against any country nor is it designed to make anyone choose between countries.”

In a show of the US’ defense support for the region, on Monday Harris visited the Changi Naval Base in Singapore, where the US warship USS Tulsa is docked.

Her visit to Southeast Asia comes a month after the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines. EFE


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