VP Harris Vows 'Unwavering Commitment' to Philippines

During her visit to the Philippines on Tuesday, US VP Kamala Harris accused China of "intimidation and coercion" in the disputed waters of the South China Sea and reaffirmed the US's "unwavering commitment" to defend its ally should it be attacked.

VP Harris Vows 'Unwavering Commitment' to Philippines
Image credit: Reuters [via Rappler]

Facts

  • During her visit to the Philippines on Tuesday, US VP Kamala Harris accused China of "intimidation and coercion" in the disputed waters of the South China Sea and reaffirmed the US's "unwavering commitment" to defend its ally should it be attacked.
  • This commitment comes from the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty. Sec. of State Antony Blinken made similar vows in July to protect the Philippines in the event of an attack, amid mounting tensions between Manila and Beijing.
  • Speaking before the Philippine Coast Guard in Palawan, Harris also stated that the Philippines' 2016 arbitral victory on the maritime case "must be respected," referring to Beijing's refusal to accept the ruling issued by a tribunal in The Hague.
  • Palawan is a Philippine island that borders the South China Sea. It's located near the Spratly Islands, which are at the center of the maritime controversy between China and nearby countries. Beijing has added airstrips and military installations to it.
  • Harris' visit to the Philippines, which is part of Biden admin. efforts to strengthen ties with Asia-Pacific allies, kicked off on Monday when the VP met in Manila with Sara Duterte, her counterpart, and Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., among other top officials.
  • Hours before Harris arrived in the Philippines, China's coast guard and the Philippines had a flare-up when Chinese vessels blocked the Philippine navy before seizing the suspected debris of a Chinese rocket it was towing off Philippine-occupied Thitu island.

Sources: New York Times, Daily Caller, CNN Philippines, NPR Online News, Rappler, and Guardian.

Narratives

  • Anti-China narrative, as provided by CNN. China's illegal claims over the South China Sea have revealed its hegemonic ambitions in the Pacific, and the US is right to reassert its support for its allies. By visiting Palawan, Harris made a meaningful move that shows US commitment to the region without directly threatening Beijing.
  • Pro-China narrative, as provided by Global Times. This rapprochement with Manila comes as the Biden admin. is seeking to ensure its ability to militarily intervene in the Taiwan Strait. Despite constantly accusing Beijing of being a threat to regional security and stability in Southeast Asia, the US is the one promoting conflicts and rivalry in the region.

Predictions