Jan 19, 2021 - World

What Biden's top administration picks signal about his China strategy

Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios
Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Early indicators suggest the Biden administration may continue to pursue a robust China strategy that reaches across multiple government departments and agencies.

Why it matters: Though the Trump administration's approach to China was often controversial, there is broad bipartisan agreement that China poses a major challenge to U.S. interests and values.

Biden's picks for China-related National Security Council positions so far include:

  • Kurt Campbell — Indo-Pacific coordinator.
  • Laura Rosenberger — senior China director.
  • Rush Doshi — senior China director.
  • Shanthi Kalathil — democracy and human rights coordinator.
  • Tarun Chhabra — senior director for technology and national security.

Campbell is a veteran former State Department official whose position as Indo-Pacific coordinator, combined with his known aplomb in working through bureaucracy, suggests part of his mandate will include organizing China policy across different government departments.

  • These choices have been popular among China watchers concerned about China's malign influence activities abroad — and at least one is already viewed with trepidation in Beijing:

For a preview of how Biden's team might pursue a post-Trump China policy, read this recent Foreign Affairs article by Campbell and Doshi, called "How America can shore up Asian order." In the article, Campbell and Doshi prescribe:

  • A balance of power in the Indo-Pacific.
  • A regional order that Indo-Pacific states recognize as legitimate.
  • A coalition to address China’s challenge to the above two.

Go deeper: Trump leaves Biden tough choices for his own China playbook

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