On August 24, Vietnam’s prime minister told the Chinese ambassador that Hanoi “does not align with one country to oppose another,” according to Reuters. The Vietnamese government leader said so a few hours before the visit to Hanoi by US Vice President Kamala Harris.
Earlier in Singapore on August 24, Ms. Harris accused Beijing of coercion and intimidation to bolster its claims in the South China Sea (Vietnam calls it the East Sea).
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh affirmed that Vietnam adheres to the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralization and diversification and is a responsible member of the international community, according to a statement posted on the government website.
“Vietnam does not ally nor join with one country to oppose another,” the statement read.
Territorial disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved in accordance with international law and “high common sense,” the statement said. China will support COVID-19 vaccine for Vietnam.
The meeting between PM Chinh and Chinese Ambassador Xiong Bo was not previously announced and took place in the context that Ms. Harris had planned to fly from Singapore to Vietnam on the evening of September 24, but the flight was suddenly delayed by 3 hours.
US Vice President Kamala Harris waves as she went out from Air Force 2 at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi to begin her two-day tour of Vietnam. Her flight from Singapore was delayed several hours after a “health incident” from Hanoi.
A spokeswoman for Ms. Harris declined to comment on the reason for the delay.
In a statement, the US Embassy in Hanoi said the delay was due to information about a “recent possible unusual health incident in Hanoi.”
“After a thorough evaluation, the decision has been made to continue the Vice President’s trip,” the statement said, without elaborating.
The US administration has called competition with China the “greatest geopolitical test” of the century, and Southeast Asia has seen a flurry of high-level visits by top administration officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.