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Kamala Harris kicks off Vietnam go to by calling out China’s ‘bullying’ ways

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam on August 24, 2021. Harris is on an official journey to Southeast Asia to rally regional allies because the U.S. world management standing takes successful over a fallout in Afghanistan.

Evelyn Hockstein | AFP | Getty Pictures

The strategic competitors between the U.S. and China got here to forefront as Vice President Kamala Harris kicked off the second leg of her official go to to Southeast Asia in Vietnam.  

Harris instructed Vietnamese officers within the capital metropolis of Hanoi on Wednesday there was a must put stress Beijing on its actions within the South China Sea. Vietnam is a vocal opponent of China’s huge territorial claims within the strategic waterway.  

“We have to discover methods to stress and lift the stress, frankly, on Beijing to abide by the United Nations Conference on the Legislation of the Sea, and to problem its bullying and extreme maritime claims,” mentioned Harris.

The United Nations Conference on the Legislation of the Sea or UNCLOS is a global treaty that outlines nations’ rights and tasks on this planet’s ocean area. It varieties the premise for a way worldwide courts, such because the Worldwide Tribunal for the Legislation of the Sea, settle maritime disputes. 

Harris’ remark adopted her speech in Singapore on Tuesday, when she mentioned Beijing had continued “to coerce, to intimidate and to make claims to the overwhelming majority of South China Sea.”

The South China Sea is resource-rich waterway that is an important business delivery route the place trillions of {dollars} of world commerce cross by way of annually. China claims almost your complete sea — elements of which have additionally been claimed by some Southeast Asian nations together with Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

In 2016, a tribunal on the Everlasting Court docket of Arbitration dismissed China’s declare as legally baseless — a ruling Beijing ignored.

In response to Harris’ Singapore speech, Chinese language state media accused the American vp of searching for to “drive a wedge” between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors.

Forward of her arrival in Vietnam on Tuesday night, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and China’s ambassador to Vietnam held a beforehand unannounced assembly, reported Reuters. In the course of the assembly, the Chinese language ambassador pledged a donation of two million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Vietnam, based on the report.

‘Greatest’ geopolitical contest

Whereas Harris has been cautious about hitting out at Beijing, political analysts and former diplomats mentioned there may be little doubt that her journey is a part of the U.S.’ technique in competing with China.

The rivalry between the U.S. and China is the “greatest” geopolitical situation at the moment, mentioned Kishore Mahbubani, a outstanding former Singapore diplomat.

“So clearly the go to of Vice President Kamala Harris is a part of the competition between United States and China,” Mahbubani, now a distinguished fellow on the Nationwide College of Singapore’s Asia Analysis Institute, instructed CNBC’s “Avenue Indicators Asia” on Wednesday.

“Southeast Asia goes to be a really, very important area of that competitors,” he mentioned.

His sentiment is shared by Curtis Chin, a former U.S. ambassador to the Asian Improvement Financial institution. Chin mentioned the rise of China is “an enormous international coverage problem” for the U.S. and far of the world, even because the fallout in Afghanistan continues.

United States must go all in in its consideration to Southeast Asia and actually a lot of Asia, not simply the nations that we’ve got formal alliances with.

Curtis Chin

senior fellow, Milken Institute

President Joe Biden has confronted criticism over how he dealt with the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan. The problem has overshadowed Harris’ journey to Southeast Asia, with reporters focusing their questions on Afghanistan on the vp’s joint press convention with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday.

“United States must go all in in its consideration to Southeast Asia and actually a lot of Asia, not simply the nations that we’ve got formal alliances with,” Chin, senior fellow on the Milken Institute, instructed CNBC’s “Squawk Field Asia” on Wednesday.

“And after I say all in, that is not simply diplomatic and army engagements, it means actual enterprise engagement — that is what the USA additionally must concentrate on,” he added.

Learn extra on the developments in Afghanistan:

In her talks with Singapore’s prime minister, Harris mentioned points starting from provide chains to local weather change and the pandemic.

She introduced in Vietnam that the U.S. will donate a further a million doses of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine — taking the full U.S. donation to the Southeast Asian nation to 6 million doses. Harris additionally launched the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention’s new Southeast Asia regional workplace in Hanoi.

The vp is scheduled to conclude her Southeast Asia journey on Thursday.

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