Vice President Kamala Harris delivered a speech in Singapore on Tuesday where she railed against Beijing, accusing China of “coercion” and “intimidation” in the South China Sea.
“In the South China Sea, we know that Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate, and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea,” Harris said.
The US frequently challenges Beijing’s claims to the South China Sea by sailing warships into the disputed waters, which has turned the region into a potential flashpoint for a war between the US and China.
Harris added that Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the so-called “rules-based order,” a common phrase coming out of the Biden administration. Biden officials are constantly claiming China threatens the “rules-based order,” which essentially means they view Beijing as a threat to US global hegemony.
Harris spoke of the importance of the Indo-Pacific region, the term the US uses to describe a region that stretches from India to waters east of Hawaii. “I believe that when the history of the 21st century is written, much of it will be centered right here in the Indo-Pacific,” Harris said.
After Singapore, Harris is visiting Vietnam as part of a two-country tour in the region. Her trip comes shortly after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited both countries, which demonstrates the importance of the region to the Biden administration. Key to Washington’s strategy against China is forming stronger ties with Southeast Asian countries and rallying them and other allies against Beijing.
Harris said the US “stands” with allies and partners against China’s “threats” while claiming that the US isn’t trying to work against any one country. “Our engagement in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific is not against any one country, nor is it designed to make anyone choose between countries.”
Despite Harris’ claims, it’s clear what the US is trying to do in that region of the world. Besides the frequent visits from US officials to Southeast Asia, US military activity has significantly increased in the region over the past few years. This Thursday, the US will begin military exercises with the other Quad countries; Japan, Australia, and India. The group is viewed as a potential foundation for an anti-China NATO-style military alliance in Asia.