Harris to Focus on Security and Economic Ties on Trip to Southeast Asia
WASHINGTON (AP) – Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Southeast Asia later this month in a bid to bolster U.S. engagement in the region to counter China’s growing influence in the global scale.
In a first look at the goals of his trip to Singapore and Vietnam, Harris’ deputy national security adviser Phil Gordon said the vice president will focus on the Biden administration’s commitment to of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, with an emphasis on strengthening regional security in the area.
“The Vice President will meet with government officials, leaders, individuals from the private sector and civil society, and she will focus on strengthening US leadership, expanding security cooperation, deepening economic partnerships, upholding the rules-based international order, especially in the South China Sea, and upholding our values as we do with all our friends and partners, ”he said.
Full details of Harris’ trip are still being worked out, but for her second trip overseas and her first trip as Vice President overseas, she is planning a weeklong engagement in the region. – from August 20 to 26 – a much longer trip than his. two-day tour through Guatemala and Mexico in June. Next, she met with leaders from both countries to discuss ways to tackle the root causes of migration to the United States from the region, a central part of her portfolio as vice president.
Harris has had less public engagement in Southeast Asia, but Asia has been at the center of the Biden administration’s preoccupations since Joe Biden’s presidency began, as he sought to counter diplomatic incursions. and China’s military in the region.
Relations between the United States and China have deteriorated sharply under Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, and the two sides remain at odds on many issues, including technology, cybersecurity and human rights.
Last week, during a speech to the office of the director of national intelligence, Biden warned that Chinese President Xi Jinping was “extremely serious about becoming the most powerful military force in the world, as well as the biggest and the most powerful in the world. largest economy in the world. in the mid-1940s, the 2040s.
The president has sent some of his senior officials to Asia to show their support for US allies in the region.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made their first overseas trip to Japan and South Korea. Austin visited Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines last month where he pledged U.S. support against Beijing’s intrusions into the South China Sea.
Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman visited Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia in May and early June. Last month, she visited Japan, South Korea and Mongolia before heading to China for high-level talks. who ultimately did not do much to solve many of the deep divisions between the two countries.
Harris will be the first U.S. Vice President to visit Vietnam, and her trip aims to show the depth of U.S. engagement in the region.
“The National Security Council was very supportive of the idea that the vice president would be well placed to complement these other meetings and visits with trips to Singapore and Vietnam,” Gordon said. “It’s really part of an overall Unified Government engagement strategy that also shows our overall engagement in East Asia, South Asia and South East Asia. “