PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines — Vice President Kamala Harris referred to as on international locations Tuesday to face up for territorial integrity and freedom of navigation within the South China Sea, which has been challenged by China, and mentioned Washington would press a world marketing campaign in opposition to “irresponsible conduct” within the disputed waters.
Harris didn’t cite China by identify however was clearly referring to Beijing when she underscored America’s assist to treaty ally the Philippines “within the face of intimidation and coercion within the South China Sea.”
She spoke aboard a Philippine coast guard patrol ship docked in Puerto Princesa within the western island province of Palawan, which lies on the fringe of the disputed waters. The extremely symbolic go to was the final leg of a two-day go to that kicked off in Manila on Monday for talks with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Citing the profound stakes for America and the worldwide group within the area, significantly within the busy South China Sea, Harris referred to as for a broad effort to combat for unimpeded commerce and freedom of navigation and overflight within the disputed waters.
“We should rise up for ideas comparable to respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, unimpeded lawful commerce, the peaceable decision of disputes,” she mentioned.
“We’ll proceed to rally our allies and companions in opposition to illegal and irresponsible conduct,” she mentioned. “When the worldwide rules-based order is threatened someplace, it’s threatened in every single place.”
A brand new confrontation erupted forward of her go to to Palawan when the Philippine navy alleged a Chinese language coast guard vessel had forcibly seized Chinese language rocket particles as Filipino sailors have been towing it to their island.
Marcos Jr. instructed reporters with out elaborating that he was inclined to ship a diplomatic protest to China over the incident. He added that he wished a clarification as a result of China denied there was a forcible seizure of the particles.
The long-seething territorial conflicts involving China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have lengthy been thought to be an Asian flashpoint and a fragile fault line within the U.S.-China rivalry within the area.
In her talks with Marcos Jr. on Monday, Harris reaffirmed Washington’s dedication to defend the Philippines below the 1951 Mutual Protection Treaty, which obligates the allies to assist defend any aspect that comes below assault.
“An armed assault on the Philippines armed forces, public vessels, or plane within the South China Sea would invoke U.S. Mutual Protection commitments,” Harris instructed Marcos Jr. “And that’s an unwavering dedication that we’ve to the Philippines.”
Marcos Jr. thanked Harris, saying that with the upheavals within the area and past, “this partnership turns into much more vital.”
In Palawan’s major metropolis of Puerto Princesa, Harris visited a small fishing group and mentioned with impoverished villagers the influence of unlawful fishing on their livelihood.
The U.S. will present extra assist of $7.5 million to Philippine maritime regulation enforcement companies to strengthen their capability to counter unlawful fishing, perform sea surveillance and assist in search and rescue efforts, together with within the South China Sea, in line with a press release issued by her workplace.
Whereas the U.S. lays no claims to the strategic waterway, the place an estimated $5 trillion in international commerce transits annually, it has mentioned that freedom of navigation and overflight is in America’s nationwide curiosity.
In Sunday’s incident within the Spratlys, probably the most hotly contested space, Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos, commander of the Philippine navy’s Western Command, mentioned a Chinese language coast guard ship twice blocked a civilian boat manned by Philippine navy personnel earlier than seizing the particles it was towing off Thitu island.
China denied there was a forcible seizure and mentioned the particles, which it confirmed was from a latest Chinese language rocket launch, was handed over by Philippine forces after a “pleasant session.”
Chinese language coast guard ships have blocked Philippine provide boats delivering provides to Filipino forces within the disputed waters up 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 mentioned that U.S. Navy and Air Drive patrols and fight workout routines within the disputed waters are militarizing the South China Sea.
In July, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to as on China to adjust to a 2016 arbitration ruling that invalidated Beijing’s huge territorial claims on historic grounds within the South China Sea. China has rejected the choice.