Kamala Harris visits Singapore to deepen ties, counter China's influence

Reuters
Singapore Published: Aug 23, 2021, 08:32 AM(IST)

File photo of US Vice President Kamala Harris Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

US Vice President Kamala Harris will meet Singapore's leaders on Monday on the first working day of a trip to Southeast Asia aimed at bolstering ties as part of Washington's efforts to counter China's growing influence. Harris will meet Singapore's President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and later, visit the Changi Naval Base and tour the USS Tulsa

US Vice President Kamala Harris will meet Singapore's leaders on Monday on the first working day of a trip to Southeast Asia aimed at bolstering ties as part of Washington's efforts to counter China's growing influence.

Harris will meet Singapore's President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and later visit the Changi Naval Base and tour the USS Tulsa, a combat ship of the US Navy.

Singapore is not a US treaty ally, but remains one of its strongest security partners in the region with deep trade ties. However, it also seeks to balance its relationships with the United States and China by not taking sides.

The country is home to the biggest port in Southeast Asia, and supports continued free navigation in the area, where China is growing increasingly assertive.

Harris arrived in Singapore on Sunday at the start of a seven-day visit to the region, which will also include a trip to Vietnam. During the visits, US officials will aim to address Washington's concerns about China's claims to disputed parts of the South China Sea.

"Singapore has encouraged greater US engagement in Asia, but warned that efforts to 'contain' China's rise are counterproductive," according to a report released in April by the Congressional Research Service, which conducts research and analysis for the US Congress.

"Singapore has maintained generally good relations with China, at least partly as a hedge against possible US retrenchment," the report said.

In a recent interview with Reuters, Singapore's foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan, welcomed the role the United States and China play in the region - reflecting the delicate diplomacy it has succeeded at and one Harris has to navigate.

He said the United States and Singapore will discuss topics such as the pandemic, the digital economy and cybersecurity.

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