Kamala Harris visits Singapore to deepen ties and counter China’s influence Reuters – Economy and Finance

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© Reuters. US Vice President Kamala Harris arrives in Singapore on August 22, 2021.

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Nandita Boss

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris met top Singaporean executives on the first working day of her trip to Southeast Asia on Monday and forged partnerships in response to cyber threats, supply disruptions and the COVID-19 pandemic: a top priority for President Joe Biden’s administration.

During his visit, Harris met Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Haley Mayakop, aiming to strengthen ties with partners in the region as part of Washington’s efforts to respond to China’s growing economic and security influence.

Senior US government officials shared details of the meeting, and Harris is expected to hold a news conference with Lee later on Monday. He will also visit Changi Naval Base and the warship Tulsa.

Singapore is not a treaty ally of the United States, but it remains one of the most powerful security partners in the region and has deep trade ties. However, it has also tried to balance its relations with the United States and China by not taking sides.

The country has the largest port in Southeast Asia and supports the continuation of free shipping in the region, and China is becoming increasingly confident in the region: US officials will address this issue during Harris’ 7-day visit to the region. Includes a visit to Vietnam.

According to senior US government officials who spoke before the meeting, the two countries remain committed to responding to “common security challenges” in the region. One official said they were “not asking countries to choose between the United States and China.”

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“We are working hard to develop these partnerships for a number of positive reasons that are in our common interest… We have also said that while we adhere to clear principles such as freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, we do not seek conflict,” an official said.

The controversial South China Sea is a strategic waterway containing potential oil and natural gas resources, and China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have put forward competing proposals.

According to a conference briefing shared by the White House, the US and Singapore reached a security agreement on Monday to reassert the US presence in the region through “the rolling deployment of US P-8 aircraft and littoral combat ships to Singapore.”

In a recent interview with Reuters, Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan welcomed the role the United States and China are playing in the region, reflecting on their delicate diplomatic achievements and success and how Harris should approach them.

“Leaders of both countries may be careful to avoid creating the impression that Beijing may have reason to object,” said Chung Ga Ian, a political science professor at the National University of Singapore, referring to Harris’s Singapore and Vietnam. night.

Part of Harris’ task during this trip will also be to convince the leaders of Singapore and Vietnam that Washington’s engagement in Southeast Asia is consistent and not parallel to Afghanistan https://reut.rs/3kiOCP7.

“Restoring confidence in the enduring and enduring strength of the United States … must come first,” said Curtis Chen, an Asian scholar at the Milken Institute and former US ambassador to the Asian Development Bank.

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From the network to the supply chain

Details revealed by the White House show that during Harris’ visit, the United States and Singapore also agreed to expand cooperation in cybersecurity in the financial and military fields and to enhance information sharing on cyber threats.

After a series of high-profile https://reut.rs/381vy attacks affecting fuel and food supplies in parts of the United States, cyber security has become a high priority on the Biden administration’s agenda.

Other initiatives include initiating a dialogue between the United States and Singapore on supply chain building, and Harris will hold additional supply chain meetings in Singapore on Tuesday.

The Biden White House is addressing the acute shortage of semiconductor chips in the United States, which has done serious damage to automakers and fueled inflation.

Countries have also forged partnerships to fight COVID-19, prepare for the next pandemic, agree to respond to the global climate crisis, and promote smart cities and green building standards across ASEAN.

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