Harris rebukes China in speech on Indo-Pacific vision

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By ALEXANDRA JAFFE

HANOI (AP) — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivered a crisp rebuke to China for its incursions successful the South China Sea, informing its actions determination magnitude to “coercion” and “intimidation” and affirming that the U.S. volition enactment its allies successful the portion against Beijing’s advances.

“We cognize that Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate and to marque claims to the immense bulk of the South China Sea,” she said successful a overseas argumentation code Tuesday successful Singapore successful which she laid retired the Biden administration’s imaginativeness for the Indo-Pacific. “Beijing’s actions proceed to undermine the rules-based bid and endanger the sovereignty of nations.”

Harris, who is connected a weeklong plaything done Southeast Asia, declared that the U.S. “stands with our allies and our partners” successful the look of threats from China. Her consequent halt successful Vietnam was delayed respective hours owed to an probe into a imaginable incidental of the alleged Havana Syndrome — a mysterious wellness ailment plaguing U.S. diplomats — successful Hanoi.

The code sought to cement the U.S. committedness to supporting its allies successful an country of increasing value to the Biden administration, which has made countering China’s power globally a centerpiece of its overseas policy. And it came during a captious infinitesimal for the United States, arsenic the Biden medication seeks to further solidify its pivot toward Asia portion America’s decades-long absorption connected the Middle East comes to a messy extremity with the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Harris underscored this shift, calling the Indo-Pacific “critically important to our nation’s information and prosperity.” She said that portion the U.S. is focused connected closing retired its Afghanistan engagement by evacuating arsenic galore radical arsenic possible, “it is besides imperative that arsenic we code developments successful 1 region, we proceed to beforehand our interests successful different regions, including this region.”

Her rebuke to Beijing amounted to her sharpest comments yet connected the U.S. foe. And China deed back, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin invoking Afghanistan successful his effect to a question astir Harris’ comments, saying the messy withdrawal from Kabul showed the U.S. had mislaid credibility. He charged that the U.S. “can smear, suppress, coerce, and bully different countries astatine volition successful bid to support America first, without paying immoderate price.”

“This is the bid that the U.S. wants. The U.S. ever tries to marque usage of the rules and bid to warrant its ain selfish, bullying and hegemonic behavior, but who inactive judge it now?” Wang said.

In her remarks, Harris was cautious to stress that the U.S. is seeking greater engagement successful the Indo-Pacific portion not conscionable to antagonistic China, but to beforehand an “optimistic imaginativeness that we person for our information and concern successful the region.” In deference to Singapore’s staunch neutrality successful the U.S.-China dispute, Harris besides affirmed that the U.S. isn’t looking to “make anyone take betwixt countries.”

Speaking successful a state that serves arsenic the anchor of the U.S. naval beingness successful Southeast Asia, Harris emphasized the value the portion holds for U.S. defense. She besides emphasized the important U.S. economical ties there, noting that Southeast Asia represents America’s 4th largest export market.

On Monday, Harris told sailors aboard a U.S. combat vessel astatine the Changi naval basal successful Singapore that “a large portion of the past of the 21st period volition beryllium written astir this precise region” and that their enactment defending the portion was pivotal.

“It is successful our captious involvement to basal agreed with our allies and our partners successful Southeast Asia successful defence of a escaped and unfastened Indo-Pacific,” she said.

Harris besides met Monday with Singapore President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The vice president’s bureau announced a fig of agreements retired of that gathering aimed astatine combating cyberthreats, tackling clime change, addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and alleviating proviso concatenation issues.

After the code Tuesday, Harris held a roundtable treatment with concern leaders connected proviso concatenation issues. And aft a hold of respective hours that her unit refused to explain, Harris departed for Vietnam, the trip’s 2nd and last stop. She meets with apical Vietnamese officials connected Wednesday.

Harris main spokesperson Symone Sanders declined to explicate the much than three-hour formation delay, saying “I bash not person an update I tin stock with you.” She volunteered that Harris “is well,” though reporters had nary crushed to beryllium acrophobic astir the vice president’s health.

“She is well, each is good and she’s looking guardant to the meetings successful Hanoi tomorrow,” Sanders said.

But the origin of the hold was a reported lawsuit of the alleged Havana Syndrome, according to an medication authoritative not authorized to talk publically astir an ongoing investigation. The idiosyncratic perchance afflicted was not instantly identified.

The U.S. Embassy successful Hanoi issued a connection saying the hold was due to the fact that Harris’ bureau learned astir a study of a “recent imaginable anomalous wellness incident” successful the Vietnamese capital. The embassy provided nary details, but said Harris’ bureau decided to question to Hanoi “after cautious assessment.”

The U.S. authorities uses “anomalous wellness incident” to picture the syndrome, a rash of mysterious wellness incidents archetypal reported by American diplomats and different authorities employees successful Havana, Cuba, opening successful 2016. Some of those impacted study proceeding a large piercing dependable and feeling aggravated unit successful the face. Pain, nausea, and dizziness sometimes followed.

Similar, unexplained wellness ailments person since b een reported by Americans serving successful different countries. Administration officials person speculated that Russia whitethorn beryllium involved, a proposition Moscow has denied.

President Joe Biden himself has repeatedly emphasized his absorption connected China arsenic 1 of America’s main adversaries. In caller months, his medication has ramped up outreach to the Indo-Pacific region, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman some visiting the country successful the outpouring and summer. Secretary of State Antony Blinken besides held a fig of virtual meetings with Southeast Asian officials earlier this month.

The chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, however, analyzable that connection of enactment to the region, raising questions astir the U.S. committedness to its allies. While Biden said past week that an indefinite engagement would person benefited “true strategical competitors” China and Russia, China has seized connected the images of unit from the evacuation to slam the U.S. for its engagement there.

Harris said Monday during a associated quality league with Prime Minister Lee that her beingness successful Singapore, combined with the agreements astir greater practice that the Biden medication has pursued with Indo-Pacific countries, talk “volumes successful presumption of the integrity of the relationships that the United States has astir the satellite connected galore issues.”

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Additional reporting contributed by Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire successful Lowell, Mass. and Darlene Superville successful Washington.

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This nonfiction corrects the sanction of the U.S. lawman caput of authorities to Sherman alternatively of Austin.

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