SINGAPORE: US Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with Singaporean leaders today, the first working day of a trip to Southeast Asia to strengthen ties as part of Washington’s efforts to counter China’s growing influence.
Harris will meet with Singaporean President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and will later visit Changi Naval Base and tour the USS Tulsa, a US Navy battleship.
Singapore is not an ally under the US treaty but remains one of its strongest security partners in the region with deep trade ties. However, it also seeks to balance its relations with the United States and China without taking sides.
The country is home to the largest port in Southeast Asia and supports the continuation of free navigation in the area, where China is becoming increasingly assertive.
Harris arrived in Singapore on Sunday for the start of a seven-day visit to the region, which will include a trip to Vietnam. During the visit, US officials will seek to address Washington’s concerns about China’s claims to disputed parts of the South China Sea.
“Singapore has encouraged greater US engagement in Asia, but warned that efforts to” curb “China’s growth are counterproductive,” according to a report released in April by the Congressional Research Service, which conducts research and analysis for the US Congress.
“Singapore has maintained generally good relations with China, at least in part as a safeguard against a possible downsizing of the United States,” the report said.