U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said Tuesday the Indo-Pacific region is “critically important to our nation’s security and prosperity” as she promoted partnerships with allies there and criticized China’s actions regarding the South China Sea. Speaking during a visit to Singapore, Harris said she was reaffirming U.S. commitments to peace and stability, freedom on the seas, unimpeded commerce, advancing human rights and an international rules-based order. She cited the millions who depend on sea lanes in the region for their livelihood and the billions of dollars in commerce flowing through the region. “And yet, in 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,” Harris said. “These unlawful claims have been rejected by the 2016 arbitral tribunal decision.”U.S. Vice President visits Singapore, Aug. 24, 2021. Harris said common interests in the region “are not zero-sum” and said U.S. engagement is not against any one country or seeking to make allies choose one country or another, but about advancing an optimistic vision for partnership. “The fact is that I believe our world is embarking on a new era, an era with new challenges like cybersecurity and an era with new opportunities like clean energy,” she said. “The fact is our world is more interconnected and interdependent, and in order then to embrace this new era nations must be willing to take on challenges together and create opportunities together.” She said those in the Indo-Pacific region understand the threats of climate change, including rising sea levels and floods, and that the crisis is “getting much more urgent.”  Harris added that in an interconnected world, the issue affects everyone and “requires collective action.” Speaking specifically about Myanmar, also known as Burma, Harris said the United States is “deeply alarmed” by the coup carried out by the military earlier this year. “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 hope that the nations throughout the Indo-Pacific will join us in that effort,” she said. Harris also took part Tuesday in a roundtable discussion about supply chain resilience and cooperation. She is set to fly later Tuesday to Vietnam and become the first U.S. vice president to visit Hanoi.In Vietnam, she is expected to discuss many of the same issues, including security and climate change. 

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