US Vice President Kamala Harris visited a small Philippines island in the widely contested South China Sea, close to Chinese-claimed waters, on Tuesday.
The rare visit came as another show of support for the Philippines, one day after the vice president vowed that the US would respond to any potential attacks on the island nation in the disputed naval region.
The western island of Palawan is the Philippines’ closest landmass to the Spratly archipelago. The latter is claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, China and Taipei.
Harris is the highest-ranking US official to ever set foot on the island. It comes amid heightened tensions with China, which accuses the US of meddling in strictly inter-Asian affairs.