Vice President Kamala Harris addressed US troops in Japan on Wednesday and said the US will continue to operate in the Taiwan Strait “undaunted and unafraid.”
Harris made the comments after attending the funeral of Shinzo Abe, the former Japanese prime minister who was assassinated in July. Her trip came at a time of soaring tensions between the US and China over the issue of Taiwan.
“We will continue to fly, sail and operate, undaunted and unafraid, wherever and whenever international law allows,” Harris said, referring to the Taiwan Strait.
Harris also said that the US will continue to strengthen “unofficial ties” with Taipei and accused China of trying to change the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. “We anticipate continued aggressive behavior from Beijing, as it attempts to unilaterally undermine the status quo,” she said.
While the US is trying to put the blame on China for the current tensions, there has been a clear shift in US policy toward Taiwan. Most notably has been the rhetoric from President Biden, who recently said for the fourth time of his presidency that the US would defend Taiwan if China invades, breaking from the long-term policy of strategic ambiguity.
China has stepped up its military activity around Taiwan since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited the island at the beginning of August, which was just the beginning of an unprecedented series of US delegations traveling to Taipei.
Harris is now heading to South Korea, where she is expected to visit the demilitarized zone. Ahead of her visit, North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the waters off its coast as US and South Korean warships are conducting drills in the region.