Beijing: China on Tuesday hit back at US Vice President Kamala Harris for accusing Beijing of coercion and intimidation to assert its claims over the disputed South China Sea, saying America’s intervention in Afghanistan and the subsequent troop withdrawal show Washington’s definition of the rules-based international order.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, reacting to Harris’ allegations in Singapore that China continues to coerce, intimidate and make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea (SCS) even as its actions undermine the rules-based order, asked how many will buy the US allegations after America’s actions in Afghanistan.
What is happening in Afghanistan clearly shows us the definition of so-called rules, order of the US, that is, the US can wantonly want military intervention in a sovereign state but without taking responsibility for the suffering of the people of that country, Wang said.
The US can come and go as it wishes without consulting the international community, not even its allies. For the sake of America first, the US can wantonly smear, bully and suppress other countries without paying any price.
This is the kind of order the US wants. The US is always trying to defend its selfish and hegemonic and bullying practices under the pretext of rules and order. But how many will buy this? he said.
Harris, in a major foreign policy speech on Tuesday as part of her three-day visit to Singapore, said China continues to coerce, intimidate and make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea, undermining the rules-based order and threatening the sovereignty of nations.
America stands with its allies and partners in the face of these threats, she said, adding that America’s vision includes the freedom of navigation which is vital to all.
The livelihoods of millions of people depend on the billions of dollars in trade that flow through these sea lanes each day. 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, she said.
These “unlawful claims” were rejected in 2016 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the US Vice President said, referring to its ruling on arbitral proceedings by the Philippines against China’s maritime claims around the Spratly Islands and neighbouring reefs and shoals.
On July 12, 2016, the international tribunal on the South China Sea struck the worst blow to China’s claims over almost all of the SCS, saying its much-touted nine-dash line has no legal basis.
The tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the nine-dash line’, the five-judge tribunal appointed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in The Hague adjudicating on the petition filed by the Philippines had said. The US has been periodically conducting naval and aerial missions through the SCS to challenge China’s claims.
For decades, China, which boycotted the tribunal questioning its legality, has been asserting that its emperors discovered the islands hundreds of years ago and have been exercising control over the area throughout history.
But its claims came into conflict with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan as they hardly have Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) provided by the UN Convention on the Law of Seas, which Beijing declined to recognise.
However, Beijing has not only remained defiant but also consolidated its claims over the area, building artificial islands backed by military installations fitted with missiles and an airport.
Vice President Harris’ visit to Singapore is part of a diplomatic charm offensive by the Biden administration in Southeast Asia, a region that is crucial to the future prosperity and security of the United States, amidst China’s aggressive actions in the region.
The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on August 15, two weeks before the US was set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly two-decade war. This forced Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country to the UAE.
The Taliban insurgents have stormed across Afghanistan, capturing all major cities in a matter of days, as Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the US and its allies melted away.
Thousands of Afghan nationals and foreigners are fleeing the country to escape the new Taliban regime and to seek asylum in different nations, including the US and many European nations, resulting in total chaos at Kabul airport and deaths.