U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris arrived Sunday in Singapore, at the start of a short trip to Southeast Asia.
Harris begins her public duties on Monday, speaking with Singapore President Halimah Yacob and holding a bilateral meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, according to The Associated Press.
During the first leg of her trip to regional financial center Singapore, Harris will also make a stop at the Changi Naval Base, where she will speak to U.S. sailors aboard the visiting USS Tulsa.
Late Tuesday, Harris arrives in Vietnam, becoming the first U.S. vice president to visit Hanoi, as Washington seeks to bolster international support to counter China's growing global influence.
She will speak with both Singaporean and Vietnamese officials about security, climate change, the pandemic and “joint efforts to promote a rules-based international order,” spokesperson Symone Sanders said.
Her visit would follow Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s late July trip to the same two countries plus the Philippines and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s virtual meetings August 4 with counterparts from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations at an annual summit.
The trip appears a continuation of the Biden administration’s efforts to compete with China for influence in a crucial yet wary region of 660 million people, experts say.
Southeast Asian nations have long valued the U.S. role in their “security,” according to a Foreign Policy Research Institute research organization analysis released in June.
Washington periodically sends warships, sells arms and helps train troops.
The 10-member Southeast Asian bloc, however, opposes overtly siding with any outside power, though, the analysis says.