Vice President Kamala Harris continued her Asia trip Wednesday, accusing China of bullying during a speech 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,” the Vice President said at the beginning of a meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The video above includes clips from the meeting.
Harris went on to promise the United States would “maintain a strong presence in the South China Sea” to challenge China.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded, saying Harris is trying to defend “U.S. hegemony and its own interests,” not standing up for the rights of small countries.
“China firmly rejects the U.S. deployment of law enforcement forces in the South China Sea, meddling in regional affairs and disrupting regional peace and stability,” Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Chinee Foreign Ministry said.
Also in her speech, Harris announced new support for Vietnam when it comes to the fight against COVID-19.
She announced that the U.S. will send 1 million additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Vietnam. “This brings the total number of doses we’ve donated to Vietnam to 6 million,” Harris said.
The U.S. will also provide $23 million to help Vietnam expand distribution and access to vaccines, fight the pandemic, and prepare for future disease threats. The Defense Department is also delivering 77 freezers to store vaccines throughout the country.
“We have also pledged five hundred thousand dollars to ASEAN COVID-19 response fund to support the purchase of more vaccines,” Harris said. “The United States remains a strong supporter of ASEAN centrality, including in a regional health security location. And we will look to deepen our public health cooperation with ASEAN going forward.”
Harris also commented on the possible Havana Syndrome cases that delayed her trip from Singapore to Vietnam. While she didn’t specifically address the possible cases, she did express her gratitude for the work done by America’s diplomatic corps.
“The people who work in our embassies around the world are extraordinary public servants who represent the best of what the United States believes itself to be, and aspires to be, which is a good neighbor to our partners and our allies around the globe,” Harris said.