For her first visit to Asia – and her second international trip after Central America – American Vice President Kamala Harris had to suffer the fallout from the chaotic withdrawal of the Americans from Kabul and another unforeseen event: after two days in Singapore, where she landed on Sunday August 22, her departure for Vietnam on Tuesday was delayed by three hours due to what the U.S. Embassy described as two possible cases of“Abnormal health incident” in the Vietnamese capital. This phrase refers to Havana Syndrome, a set of hearing impairments and dizziness suffered by U.S. diplomatic personnel in Cuba in 2016, and then in several other countries, including China.
In Singapore, Mme Harris had to defend to reporters how the US government was “Singularly concentrated” on the Kabul evacuation effort. Before justifying “ engagement [américain] in a long-term relationship, a lasting relationship, with the Indo-Pacific region, with the countries of South-East Asia and in particular with Singapore ”.
In Hanoi, on August 25, in front of the president, Ngyuen Xuan Phuc, Mme Harris reiterated Singapore’s criticism of China’s behavior in the South China Sea: “We have to find ways to put pressure and increase the pressure, frankly, on Beijing to respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to question its abusive and excessive maritime claims”, she said of the Paracel and Spratley archipelagos as well as the myriad of atolls Beijing claims to own at the expense of other riparian countries (Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei). Those “Illegal claims”, she said in Singapore, continue to “Undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations “.
China replied Tuesday, August 24, through foreign affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin, that “ what is happening in Afghanistan clearly reveals the American definition of ‘rules and order’ ” [évoqués par Mme Harris] : “ The United States can arbitrarily launch military intervention in a country without taking responsibility for the suffering of its people, and decide when to arrive and when to leave without consulting the international community, or even their allies. “
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