Harris offers Vietnam help to counter China in South China Sea
Vice President Harris offered the U.S’s support to Vietnam in several areas including bolstering its maritime security as tensions between the Southeast Asian country and China continue to rise.
Reuters reported that Harris met with top Vietnamese leaders including President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.
A White House official told Reuters that Harris offered aid to Vietnam in support of COVID-19 vaccination programs and efforts to combat climate change. On Wednesday, Harris announced the U.S. would be donating an additional 1 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to Vietnam.
In an address on Wednesday, Harris accused China of “bullying.”
“We need to find ways to pressure, raise the pressure … 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 when meeting Nguyen.
These remarks come one day after Harris rebuked China while in Singapore.
“Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations. The United States stands with our allies and partners in the face of these threats,” she said, though she emphasized that U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia “is not against any one country, nor is it designed to make anyone choose between countries.”
Numerous countries in the region including Taiwan, Vietnam, China, Malaysia and the Philippines lay claim to part of the South China Sea, which is home to various shipping lanes, gas fields and fishing grounds. In recent months, the U.S. has adopted a policy to counteract China’s growing influence in the disputed waters, which some Southeastern countries have quietly endorsed.
While in Vietnam, Harris also visited a memorial to the late Arizona Sen. John McCain (R), where she paid tribute to “an extraordinary American hero.”
Harris’s Vietnam trip had been temporarily delayed, reportedly due to incidents of “Havana syndrome,” an illness that has largely affected foreign diplomats that causes sluggishness, nausea and fatigue. The State Department has declined to confirm these reports.
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