U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrapped up a five-nation visit of Asia in Vietnam Friday, repeating the theme that the U.S. is against China's encroachment on sovereign nations of Southeast Asia, Asia and the Indo-Pacific regions.
Pompeo Friday was greeted by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in the capital Hanoi as the countries celebrate 25 years of U.S.-Vietnam relations.
Pompeo told Phuc the United States has enormous respect for the Vietnamese people and the country’s sovereignty.
In a statement issued after the visit, the State Department said “Secretary Pompeo underscored support for the sovereignty of Southeast Asian nations, international law, and a free and open Indo Pacific.”
The top U.S. diplomat also made a point of reinforcing U.S. support in pushing back on China during earlier stops in India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia.
Prior to Pompeo's arrival to the Vietnam, the State Department issued a statement critical of China reneging on promises with other Mekong countries and for territorial claims in the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all have rival claims to the South China Sea, through which a third of global shipping passes.
The Trump administration has been openly critical of China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and its adoption of policies that exercise aggressiveness behavior towards its smaller neighbors.