Singapore — Chinese netizens have not been too happy about remarks made by United States Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday (Aug 24), during the first leg of her South-East Asian tour.
Ms Harris, whose trip is widely perceived to underline the US’ commitment to Asia amid China’s growing presence in the region, touched on China’s claims to many parts of the South China Sea, calling these claims “unlawful.”
On the same day she left Singapore for Vietnam, the Vice President gave a major foreign policy speech, expounding on the vision of President Joseph Biden’s administration for the region.
“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,” Ms Harris said.
Ms Harris affirmed that the US would “stand with our allies in the face of threats,” and added that Beijing’s claims had been “rejected by the 2016 arbitral tribunal decision.”
Tensions between the two largest economies in the world started a few years ago over trade issues.
Commenters on social media platforms in China slammed the US Vice President on the remarks she made, but also did not spare the countries she visited, referring to them as “China’s backyard.”
Weibo users asked why Ms Harris did not go to Afghanistan instead, with one writing that the US has made “countless promises in the past that it had not kept” and alleging that Ms Harris’ tour is meant “to stir up trouble and sow discord”.
Another Weibo user seemingly took aim at Singapore, without naming the country. They asked if Singapore wants to “be brothers with the Chinese or… running dogs for the Americans?”
And after an orchid was named after Ms Harris, some Chinese netizens alleged that Singapore was being “bootlickers.”
Commenting on the US Vice President’s visit to South East Asia, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry of China, Mr Wang Wenbin, said on Monday (Aug 23), “China always holds that exchanges between countries should be conducive to promoting mutual trust, and peace and stability in the region and the world at large.”
However, Mr Wang also addressed the recent pull out of American troops in Afghanistan, saying that the US had done “unscrupulous and dishonest things” in that country.
He added, “The United States is the root cause and the biggest external factor in the Afghan issue. It cannot just run away like this.”
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