Harris accuses China of coercion in S.China Sea

US Vice President Kamala Harris has accused China of coercion and intimidation in the South China Sea, and affirmed Washington's deeper engagement in the Indo-Pacific region to support its allies and partners.

Harris delivered a speech in Singapore on Tuesday while on a tour of Southeast Asia.

She said US partnerships in Southeast Asia and throughout the Indo-Pacific are "a top priority for the United States," and that the region is "critically important to our nation's security and prosperity."

Harris said, "Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea."

She noted that the claims have been rejected by a 2016 ruling by an arbitral tribunal in The Hague. She said, "Beijing's actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations."

Harris emphasized that the US stands with its allies and partners in the face of threats from China, but added, "Our engagement in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific is not against any one country, nor is it designed to make anyone choose between countries."

On Myanmar, she said the US "remains deeply alarmed by the military coup." She said the US condemns "the campaign of violent repression," and is "committed to supporting the people there as they work to return their nation to the path of democracy."