Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday criticized China for trying to “intimidate” its neighboring states in the South China Sea.
On a seven-day trip to Southeast Asia, Ms. Harris said China isn’t playing by accepted international rules in the region.
“We know that Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea,” she said in a speech in Singapore. “Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations. The United States stands with our allies and partners in the face of these threats.”
Beijing has laid claim to most of the vast sea, a major shipping lane bordering Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan. International tensions have escalated in recent months.
Ms. Harris said the region is “critically important to our nation’s security and prosperity.”
“Our partnerships in Singapore, in Southeast Asia and throughout the Indo-Pacific are a top priority for the United States,” she said, adding that the U.S. isn’t seeking to force countries in the region to choose between Washington and Beijing.
The vice president also was traveling to Vietnam on Tuesday. Her flight there was delayed for several hours, with no explanation given immediately.