VP Harris to discuss South China Sea with Marcos, Duterte-Carpio during PH trip

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the APEC CEO Summit in Thailand | White House photo

ON Monday, Nov. 21, United States Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to meet with Philippine President Bongbong Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio.

According to a White House senior official, Harris will attend a bilateral conference with Marcos centering around “strengthening our security alliance and economic relationship,” focusing on reaffirming “peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

“The Vice President will also commit to working more closely with the Philippines to strengthen our economic partnership and investment ties,” the White House official said in a press call on Tuesday, Nov. 15. “We anticipate there will be deliverables and new initiatives on this front, as well, related to the digital economy and upskilling and accelerating the transition to clean energy.”

The vice president is also scheduled to meet with “civil society activists,” and she is to attend a town hall conversation with young Filipina community leaders to discuss “empowering women and girls.”

“This will be the first event of its kind she has done overseas since taking office, and it’ll be a good opportunity for direct engagement with the Filipino people, underscoring the strong people-to-people ties with the Philippines and historic ties,” the White House said.

Harris is also set to visit Puerto Princesa in Palawan, according to a senior White House official, where she will “have a chance to meet with local communities and fisher communities impacted by the climate crisis and environmental challenges.”

The official also acknowledged recent protests over what the Philippines has claimed are illegal fishing activities by China.

“I think by going there, she’ll demonstrate our support and solidarity for the rule of maritime law,” they said.

Harris’s Philippine visit will follow her highly anticipated visit to Taiwan, which Philippine officials say will likely come up during her meeting with Marcos. Beijing’s efforts to bring Taiwan — a self-governing island nation — under Chinese control have made recent headlines.

According to news reports from the region, tension in the Taiwan Strait increased following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in August.

Neighboring countries that are a part of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), including the Philippines, argue that if China uses force to keep Taiwan under its control, the entire region will be affected.

“What happens in Taiwan…will affect the entire ASEAN region. If there is a conflict that happens in Taiwan, nobody is going to be spared. The Philippines is part of this whole equation,” Ambassador of the Philippines to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez told Reuters this week.

Harris’s visit follows a lengthy visit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Indonesia, where the two discussed the Taiwan situation.

Klarize Medenilla

Klarize Medenilla is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at k.medenilla@asianjournalinc.com.

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