SMA NEWS – MANILA
The historic visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris to a Philippine island off the South China Sea this week was meant to showcase Washington’s support for one of its oldest security allies in Asia, experts have said, as the Southeast Asian country faced what she called “intimidation and coercion” in the disputed waterway.
Harris’ stop on Palawan, an island facing the South China Sea, was part of a three-day visit to the Philippines amid high geopolitical tensions in the region.
She was the highest-ranking American official to have visited the isle, her arrival taking place just days after an incident between the Philippine navy and the Chinese coastguard.
Onboard a Philippine vessel docked in Puerto Princesa bay on Tuesday, Harris said the US and broader international community “have a profound stake in the future of this region.”
“America’s prosperity relies on the billions of dollars that flow through these waters every day. And we are proud to work with you in your mission,” she added.
“As an ally, the United States stands with the Philippines in the face of intimidation and coercion in the South China Sea.”
The South China Sea is a strategic and resource-rich waterway claimed by China almost in its entirety, but other countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei, also have overlapping claims.