Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday urged Vietnam to join the United States in challenging China’s belligerence in the South China Sea — as the Chinese Communist Party makes inroads with the Taliban amid the militant group’s reclaiming control over Afghanistan.
As part of her week-long trip through southeast Asia, Harris met with Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and President Ngyuen Xuan Phuc, reiterating her criticism of China as the CCP moves in on the power vacuum in Afghanistan left by the US’ rushed evacuation.
“We need to find ways to pressure and raise the pressure, frankly, on Beijing to abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to challenge its bullying and excessive maritime claims,” she said as the administration faces international scorn for its botched withdrawal that has left thousands of Americans and allies stranded.
Harris, the first US vice president to visit Vietnam, added that the US will support sending additional US Coast Guard to defend the nation’s security interests in the region.
The vice president also revealed the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Southeast Asia regional office, making it one of four regional offices worldwide.
Harris’ trip has largely emphasized the US’ desire to strengthen alliances in the Indo-Pacific region while placing pressure on China’s growing influence.
China’s foreign minister met with a Taliban delegation in late-July as ties between the two began to warm ahead of the pullout of US forces from Afghanistan.
A photo posted on the ministry’s website showed Wang Yi posing with senior Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and his officials in the city of Tianjin before they sat down for talks.
The display of friendliness had the appearance of a diplomatic mission at a time when the terror group is hungry for legitimacy.
Wang said Beijing respects Afghan independence and territorial integrity and always adheres to non-interference in the country’s internal affairs, adding that the hasty withdrawal of the US and NATO “reveals the failure of America’s policies and offers the Afghan people an important opportunity to stabilize and develop their own country.”
Harris also paid tribute to the late-Sen. John McCain, who was shot down when he was a Navy fighter pilot in 1967 by North VIetnamese soldiers.
He was kept as a prisoner of war for more than five years in the country where he was subject to torture and solitary confinement until he was released in 1973.
There is a memorial for McCain in Hanoi.
The late senator represented Arizona in the House and Senate from 1987 until his death. He died of brain cancer on Aug. 25, 2018.
President Joe Biden, who met McCain in the Senate, was close friends with the Arizona senator and gave a eulogy at his funeral.
Earlier in the week while in Singapore, Harris slammed China for “unlawful claims” in the South China Sea, calling their actions “coercion” and “intimidation.”
“We know Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate, and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea,” she said.
“These unlawful claims have been rejected by the 2016 arbitral tribunal decision, and Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations.”
Harris has been criticized for going through with her trip amid the ongoing tragedy of the Afghanistan evacuation, which has seen thousands of Americans and their Afghan allies stuck in Taliban-controlled territory.
The vice president has defended the trip, calling it a “a reaffirmation of our commitment to our membership in the Indo-Pacific region.”
View original post