Vice President Kamala Harris had a minor setback on her trip to Vietnam, her plane was delayed for three hours. But that was plenty of time for China to move into the country and take the spotlight away from the United States. The country offered twice as many COVID-19 vaccines as Harris was prepared to announce once she arrived.
Fox News reported that “Harris was set to announce a U.S. donation of one million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine as part of a broader effort to cultivate closer ties with Vietnam and counteract Beijing’s influence in the region.”
And citing a Washington Post report, Fox News also stated, “When Harris’ team experienced a three-hour delay ahead of her planned meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, China sent its own diplomat to meet with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and offer two million vaccine doses.”
The State Department conceded on Tuesday that the vice president’s trip to Vietnam was delayed due to concerns about “an anomalous health incident” in Hanoi.
The U.S. embassy in Hanoi made this statement: “Earlier this evening, the vice president’s traveling delegation was delayed from departing Singapore because the vice president’s office was made aware of a report of a recent possible anomalous health incident in Hanoi, Vietnam.”
The statement also indicated, “After careful assessment, the decision was made to continue with the vice president’s trip.”
It was reported in Bloomberg News that the term, “anomalous health incident,” has special meaning. “The State Department has frequently used the phrase ‘anomalous health incidents’ to describe so-called Havana Syndrome, which has afflicted dozens of U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials who describe feeling ill and other unusual physical sensations after hearing strange sounds. The U.S. has not determined a cause for the affliction, and the White House on Tuesday declined to say if the individual’s symptoms were similar to those in other Havana Syndrome cases.”
The vice president is now on a week-long tour of Asia. She was scheduled to leave Singapore at 4 pm, but reporters who travel with her were quickly sent back to the Shangri-La hotel shortly at 3:30 p.m. after they had been loaded into vans for the scheduled departure from Paya Lebar Air Base. Their plane with Harris eventually took off at around 7:30 p.m. that evening.
Symone Sanders, the spokesperson for the Vice President did not explain the delay. She did say to reporters before the takeoff: “You saw her get onto the plane. She is well. All is fine,” according to The Daily Mail.
After China swooped in with the double offer upstaging the vice president, the Vietnamese prime minister thanked Beijing’s diplomat and said that Vietnam “does not ally with one country to fight against another,” this was reported by Vietnamese state-run media.
Vice President Harris has not minced words with China on this trip to Asia. In Vietnam, Harris asked the nation to assist the Biden administration in opposing China’s effort to expand their influence in the South China Sea.
She said at one meeting, “We need to find ways to pressure and raise the pressure, frankly, on Beijing to abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to challenge its bullying and excessive maritime claims.”
After Harris made a number of accusations about Beijing bullying other smaller nations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin responded by accusing the Biden Administration of seeking to defend “US hegemony and its own interests,” rather than promoting the rights of small countries.
“China firmly rejects the US deployment of law enforcement forces in the South China Sea, meddling in regional affairs and disrupting regional peace and stability,” Wang said in a statement.