Correspondent in New York
The vicepresidenta de EE.UU., Kamala Harris, arrived in Vietnam on Wednesday as part of a trip to Asia that coincides with a questioning inside and outside the United States of Joe Biden’s foreign policy. The visit to Singapore –Where Harris was earlier in the week– and Vietnam it became known at the end of July, when the Biden Administration still did not intuit – at least publicly – the episode that marks the first year of the Biden Administration: the collapse of Afghanistan against the Taliban and the chaotic evacuation of Kabul.
Errors in planning and preparing for the return of US troops, which for some undermine their partners’ relationship with the Biden Administration, have peppered Harris’s trip, which is directly related to the decision to leave. Afghanistan: Biden has insisted that this endless war, which has completed two decades, draws resources from the great challenges that the US must face, how to contain China’s global presence.
These efforts are part of Harris’s trip, in which the vice president had an advantage because they were two partner countries of the United States in the region. But the chaotic images of Kabul have caught the eye, and Harris’s presence in Vietnam has been yet another reminder of the parallels between the departure from Afghanistan and another historical episode of unfortunate memory for the country: the evacuation of Saigon in 1975.
In Singapore, Harris accused China of “coercion” and “intimidation” in the South China Sea. Yesterday, in Hanoi, together with the president of Vietnam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, he defended that “we have to find ways to put pressure and increase the pressure, frankly, on China” and that the US “will continue to face abuse and excessive maritime demands from Beijing ‘.
It was a historic moment for Harris, the first vice president to visit Vietnam since the country’s reunification in 1975 after the war in which the US participated, but Beijing managed to steal the limelight: she held a surprise meeting of her ambassador with the prime minister of Vietnam, Pham Minh Chinh. In it, China announced a donation of two million doses of the Covid vaccine to Vietnam and Chinh announced that his country would not align itself with any power.
Harris arrived in Hanoi after suffering some setback: he had to delay the trip for several hours due to reports of attacks with the so-called ‘Havana syndrome’. It is a disease that causes dizziness, nausea and migraines and that has been detected dozens of cases in various diplomatic representations around the world. The first cases were registered in the US embassy, in the Cuban capital in 2016. The incident, although it did not prevent the trip, did not help to dispel doubts about the strength in foreign policy transmitted by the Biden Administration.