|80Britney Spears gushes over boyfriend Sam AsghariDjokovic chases calendar-year Grand Slam at US OpenU.S. Vice President Kamala Harris attends the official launch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Southeast Asia regional office in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)© Provided by Associated Press U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris attends the official launch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Southeast Asia regional office in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)

HANOI (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris will turn her attention to issues surrounding worker rights and civil liberties Thursday as she closes out her visit to Southeast Asia, elevating activists in a region of the world known for its challenges and restrictions to human rights.

Harris will participate in what her team is billing as a “changemakers” event in Vietnam with civil society and business leaders — as well as a press conference — before beginning the trip back home to the U.S. Vietnam has been criticized for restrictions on freedom of expression and the press, and its crackdown on individuals it deems political dissidents.U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks during the official launch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Southeast Asia regional office in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)© Provided by Associated Press U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks during the official launch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Southeast Asia regional office in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)

The events cap off a weeklong trip that took Harris to Singapore and Vietnam in a bid to strengthen U.S. relations with the two countries and affirm the commitment to a region that’s grown increasingly important to U.S. efforts to counter China’s influence globally.U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, left, delivers remarks during the official launch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Southeast Asia regional office in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)© Provided by Associated Press U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, left, delivers remarks during the official launch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Southeast Asia regional office in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)

The vice president spent the week meeting with leaders in both nations to discuss ways in which the U.S. can deepen economic and defense ties. She unveiled new agreements with Singapore to combat cyberthreats and tackle climate change, and aid to Vietnam to develop economic opportunities and combat the coronavirus, among other things.

While Harris has emphasized that her visit to Southeast Asia is intended to foster a positive relationship with countries in the region and expand U.S. cooperation and involvement, she also spent the visit ramping up Biden administration rhetoric toward China, issuing repeated warnings to the country to end its aggression in the disputed South China Sea.

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