Vice President Kamala Harris during the official launch of the CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Wednesday. Evelyn Hockstein/Getty Images
China one-upped the US in Vietnam by pledging to donate 2 million COVID-19 vaccines.
Kamala Harris was en route to Vietnam when this happened.
The US has promised more than 1 million COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam.
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Kamala Harris was on her way to Vietnam to donate 1 million COVID-19 vaccines when China took advantage of a scheduling delay, sent its diplomat to meet with the prime minister, and offered 2 million vaccines, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
Harris is traveling in Southeast Asia this week as part of the Biden administration’s broader effort to curb China’s expanding influence across the globe. President Joe Biden has made challenging China on the global stage a top foreign-policy priority, framing it as a battle between democracy and autocracy. China’s effort to one-up the US in Vietnam is emblematic of the evolving competition between the two major powers.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh thanked the Chinese diplomat, adding that Vietnam “does not ally with one country to fight against another,” according to state media.
On Monday, Harris met with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. As the US faced international scrutiny over the chaos surrounding the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, Harris during a news conference with Lee said, “The reason I am here is because the US is a global leader, and we take that role seriously.”
In a separate speech during the visit, Harris criticized China over its actions regarding the South China Sea.
“In the South China Sea, we know that Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate, and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea,” Harris 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.”
“The US stands with our allies and partners in the face of these threats,” she added.
Harris also addressed the crisis in Afghanistan, which has cast a shadow over her trip, saying that Biden made “the courageous and right decision to end this war because we had achieved what we went there to do.”
The vice president said the US was “laser-focused on the task at hand” to complete evacuations from Afghanistan by an August 31 deadline.
In Vietnam on Wednesday, Harris continued to criticize China over its “bullying” tactics in the South China Sea.
“China firmly rejects the US deployment of law enforcement forces in the South China Sea, meddling in regional affairs and disrupting regional peace and stability,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in response, according to The Associated Press.
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