Vice President Kamala Harris will set out on her scheduled visit to Vietnam and Singapore this Friday, her second overseas trip as vice president, in an effort to improve the U.S.’s relationship with its Asian allies as the crisis in Afghanistan continues.
A White House official, who spoke to The Washington Post under the condition of anonymity, said that the trip will continue as planned, noting that the vice president will receive regular briefings on the situation in Afghanistan and will remain involved in discussions on the Biden administration’s next steps.
“Given our global leadership role, we can and we must manage developments in one region while simultaneously advancing our strategic interests in other regions on other issues,” the official said. “The United States has many interests around the world, and we are well-equipped to pursue them all at the same time.”
Fox News notes that the trip “comes as the current crisis in Afghanistan has drawn many comparisons to the end of U.S. involvement in Vietnam in the 1970s,” following the fall of Saigon.
Harris has “been pushing, even as we work to solve this pandemic, to get ready, get the world ready, to deal with the next one,” said a second senior U.S. official said, who also requested to remain anonymous.
“You don’t have to take a super-blunt approach to dealing with China issues when you are in places like Southeast Asia,” the second senior U.S. official added. “Showing up, focusing on the work that needs to be done, building a strong partnership with really crucial countries like Singapore and Vietnam, those things in themselves speak volumes.”
The first official also noted that Vietnam is a major exporter of microchips, and that the trip comes as multiple business sectors struggle with semiconductor shortages and other supply issues.
“When we talk about supply chain resiliency, everybody knows that semiconductor shortages have been part of the problem,” the official said.
“These partnerships are not abstract or theoretical,” they added, saying that “prices of new cars go up dramatically because of a shortage of chips, and then prices of used cars go up dramatically because the price of new cars.”
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