Vietnam: U.S. VP Harris offers support to counter Beijing in the South China Sea

  • U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris met Vietnam’s top leaders on 25 Aug 21, offering support in several key areas including the enhancement of its maritime security in an effort to counter Beijing’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea.
  • Harris also offered more visits by U.S. warships during her talks with Vietnam’s President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, according to a White House official who did not wish to be named.
  • During the talks Harris offered Vietnam vaccines and aid to tackle COVID-19 and announced the launch of several programs to help combat climate change, said the White House official.
  • Speaking in Hanoi, Harris said there was a need to increase pressure on Beijing over its maritime claims.
  • “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,” said Harris during a meeting with the Vietnamese president.
  • On 25 Aug 21 in Singapore, Harris accused Beijing of coercion and intimidation to back unlawful claims in parts of the disputed the South China Sea. China rejected her comments, charging Washington with trying to drive a wedge between Beijing and its Southeast Asian neighbours.
  • The vice president’s offer to support Vietnam’s increased maritime security included visits by U.S. ships and aircraft carriers, the White House official said.
  • The U.S. also launched a five-year, USD36mn USAID project which aims to accelerate Vietnam’s transition to clean energy and announced lower tariffs on U.S. exports of corn, wheat, and pork products to Vietnam to reduce the trade deficit with the country.

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