WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vice President Kamala Harris will focus on securing international bases in the South China Sea, strengthening US regional leadership and expanding security cooperation during visits to Vietnam and Singapore this month. The housing official told Reuters.
Harris will be the first U.S. vice president to visit Vietnam as Washington strengthens international support to counter China’s growing global influence.
The U.S. official said Washington considers the two countries as key partners in security alliances such as their locations, size of economies, trade relations and the South China Sea.
Vietnam, the former adversary of the United States, is a staunch opponent of China’s claims over the South China Sea. Countries in the region welcome the US military presence in light of the militarization of China’s waterways, coast guard and fishing navy.
“We do not want any country to dominate the territory or use its power to undermine the sovereignty of others,” a White House official said.
“The Vice President will insist that there should be a free trade route across the South China Sea and that no country should respect the rights of others.”
The U.S. Navy has maintained a consistent pattern of navigation freedom around the South China Sea and Taiwan, but these have done little to encourage Beijing.
Harris’ visit last week led by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to visit Hanoi, where he sought to further strengthen the security relationship. read more
It will follow high-level talks between US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and top Chinese diplomats last month. read more
This week, Secretary of State Anthony Blingen will attend a series of virtual regional meetings to try to strengthen the US message that China is serious about taking on Southeast Asia in response. read more
During a virtual session of the Aspen Security Council on Tuesday, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said high-level visits to the United States were “highly appreciated” because they knew Washington had key interests in protecting and advancing in the region.
However, he expressed concern over the deteriorating relations between the United States and China and said that many countries wanted to see this frustration.
“The United States and China need to work together to avoid a catastrophic conflict on both sides and the world,” he said.
White House official, Govt-19 Infection, Vaccines and Vaccine Quality will also be a priority for Harris.
Last month, Washington shipped 3 million doses of Moderna’s Govt-19 vaccine to Vietnam, bringing total donations to Hanoi to $ 5 million.
Harris is due to arrive in Singapore on August 22. He will arrive in Vietnam on August 24 and depart on August 26.
(This story was corrected to remove a strange word in paragraph 2).
(Report by Nandita Bose in Washington and Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; David Bronstrom and Nick Jiminski
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