Can Kamala Harris’ Anti-China Rhetoric on Asian Trip Boost US Credibility After Afghan Fiasco?

Vice President Kamala Harris has embarked on a two-leg Southeast Asia trip, which includes visits to Singapore and Vietnam, as the US finalises its withdrawal from Afghanistan. Will Harris manage to reassure Washington’s partners in Asia and form a “united front” against Beijing?

On her Southeast Asian tour, US Vice President Kamala Harris accused China of making “unlawful” claims in the South China Sea, stressing Beijing was engaged in “coercion and intimidation”. The vice president also accused the People’s Republic of “undermin[ing] the rules-based order and threatening the sovereignty of nations”.

The trip, branded by CNN as the Biden administration’s attempt to “deliver a foreign policy win for an administration in crisis” was meant to reassure America’s Asian allies of Washington’s long-term commitment to the region, according to Francesco Sisci, a Beijing-based China expert, author, and columnist.

Yet, the US VP’s charm offensive may be less effective in Hanoi, believes Dr Stephen Nagy, a senior associate professor at the International Christian University in Tokyo and a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI). Unlike Singapore, which has maintained long standing political and military relations with the United States, “Vietnam remains wedded to its political system and continues to have strong party-to-party ties with China’s Communist Party”, according to the professor.

According to The Diplomat, Vietnam and China struck “a…

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