South China Sea | Kamala Harris wants to “increase the pressure on Beijing”

(Hanoi) US Vice President Kamala Harris, who is visiting Vietnam to try to strengthen alliances with China, wants to “increase pressure” on Beijing to abandon its “abusive” claims to controversial waters in the South China Sea.

Posted on Aug 25, 2021 at 7:25 am

Tran Thi Minh Ha Agence France-Presse

“We have to find ways to put pressure on and increase the pressure on Beijing […] so that it calls into question its abusive and excessive maritime claims “in this strategic zone, said Ms. Harris on Wednesday during her meeting with the President of the Vietnamese Republic, Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Beijing claims almost all of the sea, which is rich in resources and through which a large part of the world’s maritime trade flows. Several Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, have competing claims.

“The US Navy will maintain a strong presence in the South China Sea,” Harris promised, adding that it would “help Vietnam develop its maritime security capabilities there,” while Beijing is accused of having military equipment, including rocket launchers, stationed there to have .

“China rejects the use of […] intervene in regional affairs and disrupt peace and stability in the region, ”Chinese State Department spokesman Wang Wenbin responded to state media accusing Washington of“ trying to drive a wedge between the countries of the United States. ‘Southeast Asia and Beijing.

It was the second time in two days that the US Vice President attacked China.

On Tuesday in Singapore, where she began her tour of Asia, she condemned Chinese attempts to “intimidate” the region. Beijing retaliated with similar charges against the United States’ stance in Afghanistan.

The ghost of Saigon

Kamala Harris’s visit to Vietnam comes at a critical time for Washington.

The fall of Kabul and the chaotic evacuations from the Afghan capital revived the trauma of the Vietnam War and the flight of American diplomats from Saigon in 1975. Ms. Harris will not visit the city, the economic heart of the country that has been renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

But while China vies with the United States for political influence and maritime domination in the Indo-Pacific region, Vietnam is strategically and economically important to Washington.

Ms. Harris also tried to draw attention to health security during the inauguration of a regional branch of the American Center for Disease Control (CDC) Wednesday afternoon.

After successfully containing the coronavirus epidemic in 2020, Vietnam, like several countries in the region, is facing an unprecedented outbreak.

The vaccination campaign is developing very slowly in the country, almost 2% of the approximately 100 million inhabitants are fully vaccinated.

Ms. Harris on Wednesday announced a donation of a million vaccines that will arrive in Vietnam within 24 hours. Washington has already given the country five million doses.

The icy relationship between Washington and Beijing will remain the focus of attention. The disputes are numerous, ranging from cybersecurity to the struggle for technological supremacy to human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

And Joe Biden’s administration essentially continues the showdown started by Donald Trump.

To make sure

The American Vice President is still trying to allay fears.

In Singapore, she assured that these growing tensions should not force countries closely linked to the two economic powers to choose their side.

Hanoi is also trying to find its own way between Washington and Beijing.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh met with the Chinese ambassador and assured him that Vietnam would not go “with one country against another”.

Kamala Harris arrived in Hanoi on Tuesday evening, three hours late because of a “suspicious health incident” in the Vietnamese capital.

This term is commonly used by Washington to refer to “Havana Syndrome,” a mysterious disease discovered in Cuba five years ago that has since affected American diplomats in several countries.

The phenomenon has led to previously unproven allegations that Russia or other countries have been accused of using high-intensity electronic devices to physically harm these diplomats.

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