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US to open regional CDC office in Vietnam to tackle COVID-19

Washington steps up commitment to ASEAN public health amid Beijing tensions

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, speaks during an online meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers hosted by Vietnam on Sept. 10.   © VTV/AP

SINGAPORE/HANOI -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will open a regional office in Hanoi to increase its public health engagement in Southeast Asia, the U.S. State Department said after an online ministerial meeting with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations hosted by Vietnam on Thursday.

The plan comes as tensions between the U.S. and China escalate over maritime security, trade and technology. The role of the regional CDC office has not been clearly stated, but it would increase the centers' capacity in Southeast Asia. That might upset Beijing; China was the epicenter of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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