Chinese officials Tuesday took advantage of Vice President Kamala Harris’ flight delay to Vietnam by sending a diplomat to offer the country two million COVID vaccines ahead of Harris’ announcement that the US would donate one million injections.
Harris planned to announce a donation of 1 million doses of Pfizer from the United States to the people of Vietnam during her trip, in an effort to build closer ties with the former enemy in order to regain Chinese influence in the area. to insist, according to the Washington Post.
But when Harris’s team suffered a three-hour flight delay after her office was notified of an investigation into two possible cases of so-called Havana syndrome in Hanoi, Chinese officials took advantage.
They sent their ambassador to the country, Xiong Bo, to meet Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and offer 2 million doses of his own Sinopharm COVID vaccine.
Sinopharm’s vaccine is less effective at preventing COVID than the Pfizer injection, blocking about 79 percent of infections, while Pfizer is believed to be about 94 percent effective against the virus.
In return, Vietnam’s Prime Minister thanked Bo and said his country “does not ally with one country to fight another.” state-run media reported.
Vice President Kamala Harris was supposed to announce the donation of 1 million COVID vaccine doses from the United States to Vietnam, but when her plane was delayed, Chinese officials reportedly sent their diplomat, Xiong Bo, right, to meet the Vietnamese prime minister and hold a conference call. to make an offer. the country 2 million doses of COVID vaccine
Harris finally announced the donation of the Pfizer vaccines at a meeting on Wednesday, saying they would arrive within the next 24 hours.
Vietnam is seeing an increase in COVID cases mainly due to the highly virulent Delta variant, according to the Post, with Ho Chi Minh City – formerly known as Saigon – under strict lockdown, enforced by the military, offering food to residents supplies.
China’s vaccine donations would go to the Vietnamese military, while the United States donation – which Harris announced on Wednesday – was intended for the general public.
She said the doses would arrive within the next 24 hours as the United States opens a regional branch of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Hanoi.
In total, the Post reports, the United States has donated 6 million doses of COVID vaccine to the country, while China sent 500,000 doses to the country in June.
And in addition to the new vaccine doses, the US will provide $23 million in American Rescue Plan and emergency funding through the Centers for Disease Control and the United States Agency for International Development to help Vietnam expand distribution and access to vaccines, the COVID- 19 pandemic and prepare for future disease threats.
The Department of Defense also supplies 77 freezers to store the vaccines across the country.
Vietnam sees an increase in COVID cases as the Delta variant spreads
In total, the United States donated 6 million doses of COVID vaccine to the country, while China sent 500,000 doses to the country in June
But the vice president’s arrival was delayed Tuesday due to what US officials called an “abnormal health incident” in Hanoi, a clear reference to the so-called “Havana syndrome” that has affected US diplomats in several countries, including China and Russia.
The syndrome was first noticed at the end of 2016 at the US embassy in Havana, Cuba.
Diplomats there complained of a variety of vague symptoms, including sudden dizziness, nausea, headache and pressure on the head, sometimes accompanied by a “pungent directional noise,” according to CNN.
Some have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries and continue to suffer from debilitating headaches and other health problems years later.
A Senate committee said earlier this year that the number of suspected cases appears to be on the rise.
It’s not clear what causes the syndrome, and it has led to unsubstantiated allegations that Russians or others used high-intensity sonic or other electronic devices to physically harm American diplomats.
The delay, the Post reports, allowed China to supply its own COVID vaccines to the country amid tensions in the South China Sea, where China has expanded its influence into other countries’ territories.
US Vice President’s arrival in Vietnam was delayed by an ‘abnormal health incident’ in Hanoi, a clear reference to the so-called ‘Havana syndrome’
Vice President Kamala Harris met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on Wednesday to discuss China’s growing influence in the South China Sea.
Vietnam competes with China – its main trading partner – over territorial claims to the sea and asks the United States to become stronger in resisting China’s militarization of the sea.
Several countries claim overlapping territory in the resource-rich waters, and an international tribunal in 2016 rejected Beijing’s historic claim to most of the waters.
But China has built airstrips and deployed military hardware on anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles in the disputed waters, the Washington Post said.
The US has disputed its claims to the water through naval operations with freedom of navigation, noting that billions of dollars worth of trade flowing through the sea connecting East Asia to the Indian Ocean must be secured.
During her meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Harris called on officials to help prevent China’s control of the trade route.
“We need to find ways to pressure and frankly increase the pressure on Beijing to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to challenge the harassment and excessive maritime claims.” Harris said during a meeting with Vietnamese officials. .
She also expressed support for the deployment of another US Coast Guard vessel off the coast of Vietnam to help defend its interests in the South China Sea, adding that the United States will “continue to have a strong presence in the region’.
China responded to the allegations through state media on Wednesday, accusing the US of hypocrisy in an effort to “force and intimidate” countries in the region into its “plan to contain China.”
While pointing the finger at China and accusing it of ‘coercion’ and ‘harassment’, Harris deliberately ignored her own hypocrisy in an effort to coerce and intimidate regional countries into joining Washington in his plan to destroy China. control,” said the state-run China Daily. in an editorial on Harris’s comments in Singapore.
“It appears that the United States’ only commitment to Southeast Asia is its dedicated efforts to drive a wedge between the Southeast Asian countries and China,” it added.