Vice President Kamala Harris to go to Vietnam and Singapore amid tensions with China

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris waves as she boards Air Force Two June 14, 2021 in Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Singapore and Vietnam next month to strengthen the U.S.’s relationship and economic ties with the Indo-Pacific region, the White House said in a statement on Friday. 

Harris will be the first U.S. vice president to visit Vietnam, and the highest-ranking official from the Biden administration to visit the Indo-Pacific, and Asia overall. Indo-Pacific refers to the region that lies between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, bordered by Japan, India and Australia.

The visit comes as the administration works to fortify regional ties with Southeast Asian nations, while pushing back on China’s influence in the region and globally. 

“President [Joe] Biden and Vice President Harris have made it a top priority to rebuild our global partnerships and keep our nation secure, and this upcoming visit continues that work — deepening our engagement in Southeast Asia,” Symone Sanders, senior advisor and chief spokesperson for Harris, said in the White House statement.

The White House did not provide details on the dates of the trip. It will also serve as Harris’ second international trip in office after she visited Guatemala and Mexico in June as part of her diplomatic efforts to address the root causes of migration to the U.S. 

Harris will meet with the leaders of Singapore and Vietnam to discuss regional security, climate change and the coronavirus pandemic, according to the White House. She will also discuss joint efforts with the leaders to “promote a rules-based international order.”

The announcement also comes just days after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s own trip to Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam, which focused on offering support to Southeast Asia nations as territorial rifts with China unfold. 

The vice president’s visit affirms the strength of the relationship between the U.S. and Singapore, according to a statement released on Friday by the press secretary to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the Business Times reported. 

Harris will meet with Singapore leaders to discuss ways to cooperate in areas such as defense, digital trade and cyber security, according to the Business Times. 

“I am delighted to welcome Vice-President Harris on her first official visit to Singapore,” the statement said, according to Business Times. “I look forward to our discussions on strengthening bilateral cooperation and working together on global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.”

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