VP Harris urges defence of sovereignty in South China Sea | South China Sea Information


The US will stand by the Philippines within the face of intimidation and coercion within the South China Sea, US Vice President Kamala Harris stated on Tuesday whereas visiting the Palawan island in disputed waters.

On board a Philippine coastguard vessel docked in Puerto Princesa Bay, Harris stated the USA and the broader worldwide group “have a profound stake in the way forward for this area”.

Harris’s Palawan cease was a part of a three-day go to to one of many US’s oldest safety allies in Asia, which can also be central to its bid to counter China’s more and more assertive insurance policies within the South China Sea and in direction of Taiwan.

“We should arise for rules resembling respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, unimpeded lawful commerce, the peaceable decision of disputes, and the liberty of navigation and overflight within the South China Sea, and all through the Indo-Pacific,” Harris stated in a speech

Washington will press for a global marketing campaign in opposition to “irresponsible behaviour within the disputed waters, she stated.

Harris didn’t cite China by title however was referring to Beijing when she underscored the US’s assist of treaty ally the Philippines.

Beijing has claimed nearly the entire South China Sea, which is believed to comprise large oil and gasoline deposits and thru which trillions of {dollars} in commerce passes annually.

A 2016 ruling by an arbitration tribunal in The Hague stated Beijing’s expansive South China Sea claims had no authorized foundation, delivering a victory for Manila.

However the Philippines has been unable to implement the ruling and has since filed tons of of protests over what it calls encroachment and harassment by China’s coastguard and its huge fishing fleet.

Throughout her speech, Harris reiterated Washington’s assist for the 2016 arbitration ruling, which China stated it could not settle for, saying the choice “is legally binding and have to be revered”.

Harris’s extremely symbolic go to to Palawan was the final leg of a go to that kicked off in Manila on Monday with talks with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

A brand new confrontation erupted within the run-up to her go to to Palawan when the Philippine navy alleged a Chinese language coastguard vessel had forcibly seized Chinese language rocket particles as Filipino sailors have been towing it to a Philippine-controlled island.

Marcos Jr instructed reporters that he was inclined to ship a diplomatic protest to China over the incident as a result of China had denied that it forcibly seized the particles.

Marcos had stated throughout one-to-one talks with Harris on Monday that the 2 nations’ sturdy ties had develop into much more necessary, given what he referred to as “upheavals” within the area.

In the identical talks, Harris reaffirmed Washington’s dedication to defend the Philippines below the 1951 Mutual Protection Treaty which obligated the allies to assist defend one another, ought to one aspect come below assault.

US Vice President Kamala Harris excursions the native village Tagburos in Palawan, Philippines, on unsustainable fishing and chats with locals who put together the fish on Tuesday, November 22, 2022 [Haiyun Jiang/Pool via Reuters]

“An armed assault on the Philippines armed forces, public vessels, or plane within the South China Sea would invoke US Mutual Protection commitments,” Harris instructed Marcos Jr. “And that’s an unwavering dedication that we have now to the Philippines.”

Earlier than boarding the coastguard ship, Harris visited Tagburos, certainly one of Palawan’s many coastal communities the place she spoke with native leaders and fishermen, whose livelihoods are threatened by unlawful and unreported fishing and local weather change.

“Communities like this have seen the implications, and folks right here know the influence when overseas vessels enter Philippine waters and illegally deplete the fishing inventory, and after they harass and intimidate native fishers,” Harris stated in an obvious swipe at China.

The go to got here amid strained relations between China and the US, notably over Taiwan, the democratically ruled island China has lengthy promised to convey below its management.

“China persistently believes that communication and cooperation between nations needs to be conducive to growing understanding and belief between nations within the area,” Chinese language overseas ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian instructed reporters at an everyday briefing.

We aren’t against the USA and the Philippines having regular contact, however this sort of contact mustn’t hurt different nations’ pursuits,” he stated.

Palawan is about 320 km (200 miles) from the Spratly Islands, the place China has dredged the ocean ground to construct harbours and airstrips. Components of the archipelago are additionally claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

In March, US Indo-Pacific commander Admiral John C Aquilino instructed The Related Press that China has absolutely militarised a minimum of three of a number of islands it constructed within the disputed waters and armed them with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile programs, laser and jamming gear in an more and more aggressive transfer that threatened all nations working close by.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris arrives on Philippines Coast Guard ship
US Vice President Kamala Harris arrives on the Philippines coastguard ship Teresa Magbanua at Puerto Princesa Port, Philippines, on Tuesday, November 22, 2022 [Haiyun Jiang/Pool via Reuters]

The long-seething territorial conflicts involving China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei are considered an Asian flashpoint and a fragile fault line within the US-China rivalry within the area.

The US will present an extra $7.5m in assist to Philippine maritime legislation enforcement companies to spice up their capability to counter unlawful fishing, perform sea surveillance and assist in search and rescue efforts, together with within the South China Sea, in keeping with an announcement issued by the US vice chairman’s workplace.

The Philippine coastguard will even obtain extra US assist to improve a vessel visitors administration system for higher security at sea. The Philippines can also be now receiving real-time surveillance knowledge to have the ability to detect and counter illicit actions at sea in a mission by the Quadrilateral Safety Dialogue, a casual strategic bloc that includes the US, India, Japan and Australia, in keeping with Harris’s workplace.

Chinese language coastguard ships have blocked Philippine provide boats delivering provides to Filipino forces within the disputed waters prior to now however seizing objects within the possession of one other nation’s navy would represent a extra brazen act.

China has warned Washington to not meddle in what it calls an Asian dispute and has stated that US Navy and Air Power patrols and fight workout routines within the disputed waters have been militarising the South China Sea.

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