Harris focuses on security and economic connections on Southeast Asia travel


WASHINGTON (AP) – Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Southeast Asia later this month to strengthen US engagement in the region to counter China’s growing influence around the world.

In an early preview of the destinations for her trip to Singapore and Vietnam, Harris Deputy National Security Advisor Phil Gordon said the vice president will emphasize the Biden government’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, with an emphasis on empowering regional security in the area.

“The Vice President will meet with government officials, executives, private sector individuals and civil society, and will focus on strengthening US leadership, expanding security cooperation, deepening economic partnerships, and defending the international rules-based order, particularly in South China Meer and stand up for our values, as we do with all our friends and partners, ”he said.

The exact details of Harris’ trip are still being worked out, but for her second trip abroad and first trip abroad as Vice President, she is planning a one-week engagement in the region – August 20-26 – a significantly longer trip than her two-day tour of Guatemala and Mexico in June. She then met with the heads of state and government of both countries to discuss ways of tackling the root causes of migration to the US from the region, a key focus of her portfolio as Vice President.

Harris had less public engagement in Southeast Asia, but Asia has been a key focus of the Biden administration since Joe Biden’s presidency began as he has sought to counter China’s diplomatic and military incursions in the region.

US-China relations have deteriorated significantly under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, and the two sides remain at odds on a number of issues including technology, cybersecurity and human rights.

Last week, during a speech in front of the office of the director of the National Intelligence Service, Biden warned that Chinese President Xi Jinping “is very serious about becoming the most powerful military power in the world and the largest and most prominent economy in the world.” Mid 40s, 2040s. “

The president has sent some of his senior cabinet officials to Asia to support 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 traveled to Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines last month, where he pledged US support against Beijing’s invasion of the South China Sea.

In May and early June, Deputy Foreign Minister Wendy Sherman traveled to Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia. Last month she visited Japan, South Korea and Mongolia before traveling to China for high-level talks that ultimately did little to resolve many of the deep divisions between the two countries.

Harris will be the first US Vice President to visit Vietnam, and her trip is designed to show the US’s deep commitment to the region.

“The National Security Council strongly supported the idea that the Vice President would be well placed to complement these other meetings and visits with trips to Singapore and Vietnam,” said Gordon. “It really is part of an overall unified strategy for government engagement that shows our extensive engagement in East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia as well.”

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