US Vice President Kamala Harris said on Tuesday that the Indo-Pacific region was “of crucial importance to the security and prosperity of our country” as she promoted partnerships with allies there and criticized the actions of the China regarding the South China Sea.
Speaking on a visit to Singapore, Harris said she reaffirmed the United States’ commitments to peace and stability, freedom on the seas, unhindered trade, the promotion of human rights and a rules-based international order.
She cited the millions of people who depend on the region’s sea lanes for their livelihoods and the billions of dollars in trade flowing through the region.
“And yet in the South China Sea, we know Beijing continues to coerce, intimidate and claim the vast majority of the South China Sea,” Harris said. “These illegal claims were dismissed by the 2016 arbitral tribunal decision.”
Harris said the common interests in the region “are not zero-sum” and said the United States’ engagement is not against a country or seeks to make allies choose a country or a country. other, but on the promotion of an optimistic vision of the partnership.
“The point is, I think our world is entering a new era, an era with new challenges like cybersecurity and an era with new opportunities like clean energy,” she said. “The point is, our world is more interconnected and interdependent, and in order to embrace this new era, nations must be prepared to meet challenges together and create opportunities together.”
She said people in the Indo-Pacific region understood the threats of climate change, including sea level rise and flooding, and that the crisis “was becoming much more urgent.” Harris added that in an interconnected world, the problem affects everyone and “requires collective action.”
Speaking specifically on Myanmar, also known as Burma, Harris said the United States was “deeply alarmed” by the military-led coup earlier this year.
“We condemn the campaign of violent repression and we pledge to support the people there as they strive to bring their nation back to the path of democracy. And we hope the Indo-Pacific nations will join us in this effort, ”she said.
Harris also participated in a roundtable discussion on supply chain resilience and cooperation on Tuesday.
She will fly to Vietnam later on Tuesday and become the first US vice president to visit Hanoi.
In Vietnam, she is expected to discuss many of the same issues, including security and climate change.