SINGAPORE, Aug 24 — The United States (US) will pursue a free and open Indo-Pacific that promotes its interest, and those of the partners and allies said the country’s Vice President Kamala Harris.
Harris, who is in Singapore for her official visit, said that in this region, the US has long put forward a vision of peace and stability.
“Freedom on the seas, unimpeded commerce, and advancing human rights. A commitment to the international rules-based order and the recognition that our common interests are not zero-sum,” she said in her speech on US foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific region, here, Tuesday.
Her speech was streamed live by the US Embassy Singapore, in partnership with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
“Now, as we face threats to that order, I am here to reaffirm our commitment to that vision. To strengthen it and to make sure it addresses the challenges of today, and of tomorrow.
“To do that, we will invest our time and our energy to fortify our key partnerships including with Singapore and Vietnam,” she said, adding that the partnerships will be grounded in “candour, openness, inclusiveness shared interests and mutual benefits.”
In addition to deepening close bilateral relations, the US will also work multilaterally through long-standing institutions like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which Harris said “remains central to this region’s architecture.”
“I believe that when the history of the twenty-first century is written, much of it will be centered right here in the Indo-Pacific,” she said.
“Our intention is to strengthen our partnerships and reinforce our shared vision so that the United States with our partners can together continue shaping that history.
“In doing so, there should be no doubt. We have an enduring interest in this region and we have enduring commitments as well. Those commitments include, of course, security,” she said.
Harris highlighted yesterday’s visit to Changi Naval Base where the US Navy ship, The USS Tulsa, is docked there right now.
“A symbol of a deep and enduring security partnership between our nation, a statement of America’s security commitment to this region. Our vision includes freedom of navigation, which is vital to us all,” she said.
Harris noted that the livelihood of millions of people depends on the billions of dollars in trade, that flow, through these sea lanes each day, referring to the South China Sea.
“We know that Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate, and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea (where) these unlawful claims have been rejected by 2016 arbitral tribunal decision.
“And Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the rules-based order, and threaten the sovereignty of nations,” she said.
The United States, she said, stands with its allies and partners in the face of these threats.
“And I must be clear, 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.
“Instead, our engagement is about advancing an optimistic vision that we have for our participation and partnership in this region,” she said, adding that “our economic vision is a critical part of that.”
Harris said that the US economy shares “so much” with Southeast Asia, from supply chains to a steady flow of two-way trade.
Collectively, she said the nations of Southeast Asia represent the US’ fourth largest export market – “a vibrant and dynamic market which will soon rank among the biggest markets in the world.”
“Our trade relationships and Southeast Asia support more than 600,000 American jobs. And now, with an eye towards the future, we are strengthening our economic engagement.
“In fact, today I am proud to announce that the United States is offering to host APEC in 2023,” said the vice president, who will leave for Vietnam this afternoon.
Harris said through APEC or the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the United States has long worked with its partners in Asia and Latin America to build an inter-connected region that advances its collective economic prosperity.
Touching on Myanmar (Burma), Harris said the US “remains deeply alarmed by the military coup in Burma.”
“We condemn the campaign of violent repression and we are committed to supporting the people there as they work to return their nation to the path of democracy.
“And we do hope that nations throughout the Indo-Pacific will join us in that effort,” said the first female American vice-president.