US vice president Kamala Harris has stressed during a visit to Singapore that the US will continue its efforts on keeping the Indo-Pacific region free and open as soon as it resolves higher priority Afghanistan issues they’re currently preoccupied with, Reuters reports.
Harris promised after meeting with the country’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Halimah Yacob, that Washington will work with its local allies and partners to uphold the international order and freedom of navigation, including in the crucial commercial shipping route through the South China Sea, where each year trillions of dollars of global trade pass.
Despite Chinese warnings that such dangerous provocations may one day result in an accident or armed confrontation- an outcome no one allegedly wants-the US routinely demonstrates power through “freedom of navigation” missions, sending its warships to the South China Sea.
Though Singapore has no claims to the disputed South China Sea, other US regional allies – Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, and the Philippines- do have such territorial claims.
She vowed that the US will be shifting its gaze to the Indo-Pacific region under the motto “America is back” as soon as the issue is solved with US withdrawal from Afghanistan along with the urgent evacuations vulnerable Afghans that is America’s singular focus at this time.
Harris Asian tour organized amid Afghanistan chaos has provoked harsh criticism toward her and Biden administration though the executive director for the Asia program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, James Crabtree, has tried to calm the storm claiming Harris’ trip is an attempt to reassure allies and partners in Southeast Asia that the US has not forgotten about them.