Harris pledges to help Vietnam in South China Sea

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris took aim at China again on Wednesday, accusing Beijing of bullying its neighbors in Southeast Asia.

Harris is currently on a diplomatic tour of the region in the hopes of countering China's influence there, and this marks the second broadside in two days aimed at Beijing.

"We need to find ways to pressure, raise the pressure…on Beijing to abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to challenge, its bullying and excessive maritime claims."

Harris forged ahead with her trip to Vietnam despite delaying the visit due to a health scare.

The U.S. government blamed that delay on reports that someone in Hanoi may have been targeted by Havana syndrome, a condition of unknown origin with symptoms including dizziness, nausea, migraines and memory lapses.

Harris also pledged 1 million COVID vaccines to Vietnam after a similar donation by Beijing.

Beijing had attempted to stage its own diplomatic coup just as Harris' trip was delayed by scheduling a surprise ambassador meeting in Vietnam.

Chinese state media has accused Harris of trying to drive a wedge between China and Southeast Asian nations.

During an earlier stop in Singapore, Harris accused Beijing of using coercion and intimidation to back its unlawful claims in the South China Sea.

China has established military outposts on artificial islands throughout the sea.

Meanwhile, Vietnam and several other nations also lay claim to parts of the waters, home to crucial shipping lanes, gas fields and rich fishing grounds.

A White House official says Harris has pledged to support Vietnam's maritime security, including through visits by U.S. ships and aircraft carriers.

Harris is also expected to establish a new U.S. Embassy site in Hanoi in an effort to expand the relationship between the two countries.