Tensions are growing worse between China and the Philippines, with Fox News reporting in September that Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has lodged 52 complaints over Chinese maritime incursions.
That fact hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Biden administration, with Vice President Kamala Harris recently declaring that the United States will back its Asian ally.
Harris says America “will continue to rally our allies and partners”
According to The New York Times, Harris expressed that sentiment during a speech she made on Tuesday while visiting the Philippines.
“Communities like this have seen the consequences when foreign vessels enter Philippine waters and illegally deplete the fishing stock, when they harass and intimidate local fishers, when they pollute the ocean and destroy the marine ecosystem,” Harris said.
The Times noted that Harris’ remarks were made to members of the Philippine Coast Guard in an area close to the Spratly Islands, which have been a source of conflict between China and the Philippines.
Fox News reported that an incident in April of last year saw hundreds of Chinese paramilitary vessels “swarming” the disputed archipelago.
Meanwhile, NBC News reported that while Harris did not identify China by name, she did say the U.S. will stand by the Philippines “in the face of intimidation and coercion in the South China Sea.”
“We must stand up for principles such as respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, unimpeded lawful commerce, the peaceful resolution of disputes,” Harris went on.
“We will continue to rally our allies and partners against unlawful and irresponsible behavior,” the vice president pledged. “When the international rules-based order is threatened somewhere, it is threatened everywhere.”
China claims sovereignty over international shipping lanes
The Times noted that China claims to exercise sovereignty over all of the South China Sea, which serves as a vital conduit for international shipping.
This is despite the findings of an international tribunal in The Hague six years ago, which concluded that China’s claims have no legal basis.
The Times reported in 2016 that the decision was welcomed by Paul S. Reichler, who served as the Philippine’s chief legal counsel. Reichler said, “It’s an overwhelming victory. We won on every significant point.”