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Harris kicks off Asia visit in Singapore

2021-08-24

Climate, pandemic, supply chains feature in US vice-president's talks

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday hosted the United States' Vice-President Kamala Harris for talks that addressed climate change, the pandemic and cybersecurity.

Analysts expressed the hope that initiatives arising from the discussions will benefit Southeast Asia in addition to deepening the ties between the two countries. The need to strengthen global supply chains featured high on the agenda for Harris' trip.

In Beijing at a regular news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China has always believed that exchanges between countries should be conducive to promoting trust among nations and facilitating peace and stability in the region and in the world.

In a news briefing in the city state's presidential palace, Lee and Harris affirmed the "robust and multifaceted relationship" that the two countries have enjoyed for 55 years.

They announced plans for a climate partnership that will involve collaboration on financing to alleviate global warming, while strengthening environmental governance and pursuing low-carbon solutions.

Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at global research and information provider IHS Markit, said the climate partnership between Singapore and the US aims to promote sustainable financing and to mobilize private capital in the fight against global warming.

"Given the US is the world's largest financial center and Singapore is a leading international financial center, this joint initiative will help to boost global financing flows for sustainable development, as well as private capital flows for funding climate change mitigation and adaptation," he said.

Lee and Harris said the two countries will also strengthen joint research on genome sequencing and epidemic intelligence to identify new SARS-CoV-2 variants and increase the Southeast Asian region's capability to prevent, detect and respond to COVID-19 and future health threats.

Three memorandums of understanding were signed to strengthen cooperation in critical technology, infrastructure protection and data security.

Strategic initiative

Biswas called the cooperation on cybersecurity "a key strategic initiative that can protect institutions and individuals against this rising global threat".

In a gesture to the US, Lee offered the use of one of its aircraft to airlift evacuees from Afghanistan. Harris said the US was grateful for the offer.

Harris is the most senior US official to visit Southeast Asia since Joe Biden was sworn in as president in January. After her visit to Singapore, she was expected to proceed to Vietnam on Tuesday before heading back to the US.

Harris' trip comes on the heels of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's visit to Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines in July.

Harris arrived in Singapore on Sunday and on Monday called on Singapore's President Halimah Yacob at the presidential palace. She then visited the Changi Naval Base and the US littoral combat ship USS Tulsa, which is in port for an exercise.

Lawrence Loh, director of the Centre for Governance and Sustainability of the National University of Singapore's Business School, said supply chain resilience is a "significant concern" in the US' relationship with Singapore and with other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

"The US continues to be a key market for many of the products made across ASEAN. The US also provides critical materials and technologies for various manufactured products in ASEAN," Loh said.


From : China Daily

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