US Vice President Kamala Harris denounced China’s foreign policy in a speech outside Tokyo on Wednesday, saying Beijing’s aggressive behavior is threatening “the rules-based international order.”
Harris delivered a speech to American soldiers aboard the destroyer USS Howard, anchored at Yokosuka Naval Base.
“China is undermining key elements of the rules-based international order,” Harris said. “China has defied freedom on the seas. China has used its military and economic might to coerce and intimidate its neighbors.
The Vice President, who was in Japan to attend to the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also criticized “China’s conduct in the South China and North China seas, and more recently the provocations in the Taiwan Strait.”
In recent weeks, China has surrounded Taiwan with military exercises, which appear to be attempting a reorientation of the status quo in the sensitive Taiwan Strait.
China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, even though it is a democratic and autonomous territory that has never been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, and accuses the United States of improperly backing what it perceives as “independence forces” on the island.
Although the United States has no official relations with Taiwan, it is one of its most important international partners and regularly approves large arms sales to the island’s democratic government. It also sails military ships through the strait, which angers China.
“The United States believes that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is an essential piece of a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” Harris said. “We will continue to fly, navigate and operate without fear wherever international law allows.”
Taiwan was a talking point in Harris’s meetings with the prime ministers of South Korea, Japan and Australia in Tokyo, according to an administration official who briefed reporters but declined to be identified.
Harris travels Thursday to Seoul, where will visit the demilitarized zone that divides North Korea and South Korea.
North Korea has launched a record number of ballistic missiles this year, including a short-range one on Sundaybefore Harris’s visit.
The demilitarized zone was created as a sign of the United States’ commitment to defending South Korea, according to an administration official.
“The key message that she is taking on this journey is that our defense commitments are ironclad. We know there are a lot of discussions with the Koreans about how to extend deterrence commitments and putting those words into action I think sends a powerful signal,” the official said.
Connect with the Voice of America! Subscribe to our channel Youtube and turn on notifications, or follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.