Kamala Harris takes tougher line on China, calls out 'bullying' as administration reviews trade policy

Vice president called out China, pushed for strong response to its actions in South China Sea

Vice President Kamala Harris took a strong stance against aggressive Chinese action in the South China Sea as the Biden administration continues reviewing the U.S.-China trade policy.

During a visit to Vietnam, Harris called out China and the need to stand up to it.

"We need to find ways to pressure and raise the pressure, frankly, on Beijing to abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to challenge its bullying and excessive maritime claims," Harris said.

To that end, Harris acknowledged Vietnam’s request for a former U.S. Coast Guard cutter, which she said the administration supports "as we want to help Vietnam develop its maritime security capabilities."

"And let me affirm," she added, "that the United States Navy will maintain a strong presence in the South China Sea and will continue to challenge Beijing’s bullying and excessive maritime claims."

Meanwhile, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai had a virtual meeting with the U.S. Chamber China Center Advisory Board and the leadership of the US-China Business Council to discuss trade issues involving the two countries.

Tai noted that the administration was reviewing its China trade policy, stating that the U.S. needs to address its goals of creating jobs and raising wages while also dealing with Chinese unfair trade practices that undermine the U.S.

Harris' words echoed a similar stance from the Trump administration, as then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regularly spoke out against Chinese practices. He too referred to China's actions in the South China Sea as "bullying" and said there was no legal basis for its claims to offshore resources.