Making her mark as the first U.S. vice president to visit Vietnam, Kamala Harris' incoming Asia trip, which also includes a stint in Singapore, will include gathering international support to reject China's growing influence.
Singapore and Vietnam have become important allies for the U.S. given their economic ties, geographical location and security partnership on issues such as the South China Sea, Reuters reported, citing a White House official.
Vietnam has emerged as a significant U.S. partner and outspoken opponent of China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. In the face of China's militarization of the waterway and its vast coastguard and fishing fleet, several countries in the region welcome a U.S. presence.
The pandemic, vaccinations and vaccine quality will also be important priorities for the Vice President, the official said.
The visit comes after high-level discussions between U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and senior Chinese officials in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, which ended with both sides signaling that the other must make concessions in order for relations to improve.
Harris' trip will also follow Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's trip to Vietnam last week, during which he aimed to strengthen security ties that have been gradually progressing as China's supposed rule over the South China Sea begin to concern U.S. allies.
The U.S. Navy has maintained a consistent pattern of freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and near Taiwan, although it appears that these have had little effect on China.
Harris will not be meeting with Asian leaders for the first time. She has previously held in-person and virtual bilateral discussions with South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide from the White House.
In both nations, Harris will meet with the government, commercial sector, and civil society representatives. She will leave the U.S. on Aug. 20 and will arrive in Singapore on Aug. 22. She'll arrive in Vietnam on Aug. 24 and leave on Aug. 26.
The U.S. sent 3 million doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to Vietnam in July, bringing the country's total donations to 5 million.