In hindsight, she shouldn’t have even gone on this trip since there wasn’t any point.
US Vice President Kamala Harris’ speech in Singapore on Tuesday shows that she has it all wrong about China. She said that “We know that Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea. Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations.” That’s not true, but it serves the US’ strategic interests to propagate such a false portrayal of Chinese actions.
China has never “coerced” or “intimidated” anyone. All that it’s done is defend its legitimate maritime claims in the South China Sea, but these defensive actions are manipulatively misportrayed as unprovoked offensive ones. There have been several naval incidents in the region over the years but each one was peacefully resolved. The People’s Republic continues to maintain a peaceful policy aimed at bilaterally negotiating issues of concern with its neighbors, but America aims to make it seem otherwise.
The purpose in doing so is to position the US as a reliable security partner for supposedly defending those other countries’ interests as they understand them to be, which in this case clash with China’s. America is aspiring to meddle in bilateral disputes in order to give an edge to its preferred partner, hoping that this might encourage them to behave more aggressively. On the surface, this is a very cunning strategy, but recent events in have exposed it as an unconvincing one which becomes less credible by the day.
The US’ abandonment of thousands of Americans in Afghanistan as well as their local allies following the Taliban’s lightning-fast takeover of the country earlier this month shows how unreliable America really is. Those South China Sea states in disputes with China cannot depend on American military support if they provoke the People’s Republic there. The US will almost certainly abandon them even quicker than it abandoned its own citizens and their local allies in Afghanistan to a group that Washington still officially recognizes as terrorists.
Harris’ declaration that her country “stands with our allies and our partners” against China therefore rings hollow. Furthermore, there’s nothing for the US to actually stand against. China hasn’t threatened the legitimate rules-based international order as formulated by the UN Charter. The only one that’s allegedly violated is America’s envisioned “rules-based order”, which is nothing more than a euphemism for clinging to its fading unipolar hegemony over the world. In this order, China isn’t allowed to defend its legitimate interests.
Another point is that China has never threatened the sovereignty of any nations. It takes quite a lot of chutzpah for her to say such a thing ahead of her visit to Vietnam. The US partially occupied that country for many years, during which time it was responsible for several million deaths and an untold number of innocent people who were later born with defects as a result of America’s illegal chemical weapons use (“Agent Orange”). The US still doesn’t respect its partners’ sovereignty since it pressures them to cut off ties with Chinese companies.
In the US’ “rules-based order”, America is allowed to continue committing crimes with impunity and violating its so-called “partners’” sovereignty through imperial demands that those countries never dare to diversify from their dependence on Washington. By contrast, China’s support of the legitimate rules-based order outlined in the UN Charter has seen the People’s Republic strictly abide by international law, demand accountability for those like America who break such laws, and truly respect its partners’ right to have relations with anyone.
Harris’ trip therefore appears to be a failure. Its only purpose was to propagate anti-Chinese messages and lie to the US’ regional so-called “partners” through the innuendo that her country will militarily support them if they provoke the People’s Republic. In hindsight, she shouldn’t have even gone on this trip since there wasn’t any point. Everyone’s already familiar with the US’ rhetoric and few believe it anymore after everything that just happened in Afghanistan. Harris should have stayed in the White House and focused on that crisis instead.