U.S. vice president in Hanoi, offers 1 mil. vaccine doses to Vietnam
Written by tokyoclub on August 25, 2021
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said during her trip to Vietnam on Wednesday that the United States will provide an additional 1 million coronavirus vaccine doses to the country to help it fight the pandemic.
During her talks with Vietnamese officials, including President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, in the capital Hanoi, Harris also served notice to China over its claims in the disputed South China Sea, where Vietnam has territorial disputes with its northern neighbor.
The United States has already provided Vietnam with roughly 5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
The vice president also offered to provide freezers that can keep the vaccine in extremely low temperatures.
Later in the day, she is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the Southeast Asia regional office of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vietnam has been grappling with surging virus cases since April but its vaccination rate remains low. As of Sunday, less than 2 percent of the population had been fully vaccinated.
The CDC’s newly created regional office in Hanoi covers Vietnam and other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as Papua New Guinea, and is expected to serve as a base for coordination with those countries and making a rapid response to infectious diseases.
Harris also criticized China over its sweeping claims in the South China Sea and emphasized the need to keep its behavior in check, indicating that Washington hopes U.S. vessels, including aircraft carriers, will continue to make port calls in Vietnam.
“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,” Harris said during a portion of her talks with the Vietnamese president that was open to the media.
The vice president also noted that the administration of President Joe Biden supports sending a third used U.S. Coast Guard cutter to Vietnam to help Hanoi develop its maritime security capabilities.
Harris arrived in Vietnam, the final leg of her two-nation tour in Southeast Asia, on Tuesday as the first sitting U.S. vice president ever to visit the country.
In a speech in Singapore earlier that day, she denounced China’s assertion of its territorial claims in the South China Sea as unlawful.
“Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations. The United States stands with our allies and partners in the face of these threats,” she said, pledging that Washington will pursue a free and open Indo-Pacific.