Aug 24, 2021 - World

Kamala Harris accuses Beijing of intimidation in South China Sea claim

Vice President Kamala Harris delivers a speech at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore before departing for Vietnam on the second leg of her Asia trip, August, 24
Vice President Kamala Harris delivers a speech at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore on Tuesday. Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris accused Beijing on Tuesday of continuing to "intimidate and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea."

Why it matters: Harris' major foreign policy speech in Singapore comes at a crucial point for the Biden administration, as officials seek to emphasize the Biden administration's commitment and rally an international coalition to curb the influence of China's government.

  • Her comments come as much of the world's attention is on the crisis in Afghanistan — with the return of the Taliban nearly 20 years on from the group's ouster by U.S.-led forces.

What she's saying: "We know that Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea," Harris said.

  • "These unlawful claims have been rejected by the 2016 arbitral tribunal decision, and Beijing's actions continue to undermine the rules based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations," she continued, in reference to an international court ruling on Beijing's claims in the Hague.
  • Harris said the U.S. "stands with our allies and our partners" against China's government and that "Beijing's actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations."

Of note: The vice president stressed that the Biden administration's engagement in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific region was "not against any one country, nor is it designed to make anyone choose between countries."

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include more comment from Harris and further context.

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