Biden appoints China hawk to run Asia foreign policy

Via Micheal Green at Foreign Policy:

First, Campbell is widely recognized as an early and important architect of a strategy to build up alliances and partnerships to keep Beijing in check as Chinese power grew. In the mid-1990s, he was appointed as the senior U.S. Defense Department official on Asia, arriving with relatively little regional expertise but powerful strategic instincts. Within two years, he pushed through a major expansion of the U.S.-Japanese alliance, arresting years of post-Cold War drift and setting in train the close defense cooperation between Washington and Tokyo today. As assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific under then-President Barack Obama, he championed the so-called pivot to Asia. Some were critical of a metaphor that suggested the United States no longer cared about Europe or the Middle East, while others argued the policy was too provocative toward China. But the balance-of-power logic behind the pivot was sound and served as the precedent for the Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept. Campbell’s pivot strategy remains the core point of consensus between the incoming team and congressional leaders of both parties.

Second, the new position is unprecedented in elevating Asia’s strategic importance in the U.S. policy apparatus. When I arrived at the National Security Council (NSC) in 2001, the Europe Directorate was three times larger than that for Asia. When I left in 2005, they were about the same size, each headed by one senior director and about five directors. It looks as if Biden’s new Asia shop at the White House could have three or four senior directors, making it the powerhouse within the NSC—likely three times the current size of the Europe Directorate. This kind of major reorganization always has some collateral impact, but if it is played well, it could also be a boost to trans-Atlantic relations. NATO and much of the European Union are focused on working with the Biden administration on China—a strategic card the Trump team tossed away with its anti-European stance.
Campbell’s new position is unprecedented in elevating Asia’s strategic importance in the U.S. policy apparatus.

Third, the selection of Campbell represents an important nod to bipartisanship on China and Asia strategy. Even though the Republican National Committee urged candidates to beat up Biden on China during the 2020 election campaign, the reality is that there is very broad consensus in Congress and the foreign-policy community on the need to strengthen alliances, protect critical technologies, and press China hard on human rights and democracy—as an August 2020 poll on China policy by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found. Campbell is one of the reasons why Asia policy is as bipartisan as it is. Our long association began when I worked for him in the Pentagon before joining the NSC under George W. Bush. Randall Schriver, who until December 2019 was a very effective assistant secretary of defense covering Asia, also got his start working for Campbell in the Pentagon during the Clinton administration. Sen. John McCain and other Republicans on Capitol Hill frequently turned to Campbell for advice on China, Taiwan, Japan, and the broader region. When several of us briefed McCain before a trip he was taking to Singapore, Campbell made a strong appeal for the senator to stop in Taipei to show support at a time of increasing Chinese pressure on Taiwan—and to the chagrin of his schedulers, McCain agreed on the spot. Campbell is a proud Democrat, but at a time when the United States is painfully polarized at home, an appointment that represents bipartisanship and unity of purpose could not be more important.

This will reassure allies that Biden has their back.

Meanwhile, the push back by China fanbois at home goes on, at The Australian:

The business community is “frustrated and concerned” about Australia’s deteriorating relationship with China, Rothschild Australia senior adviser Trevor Rowe has warned.

“They are asking, ‘how do we get this back on track?’,” he said in an interview with The Australian.

Mr Rowe, the former chair of Rothschild Australia and the United Group and chancellor of Bond University, as well as a former director of the ASX and the Future Fund, said Australia needed to be more careful about the rhetoric it used in its relationship with China.

“We have to learn quiet diplomacy,” he said.

This is precisely why our bombastic diplomacy is perfect. Quiet diplomacy is what got us into our current mess of being overly dependent upon Chinese exports and vulnerable to economic bullying. Bombastic diplomacy will deliver the accelerated decoupling that we need to prevent the collapse of liberal democractic system.

Business interests are usually only concerned about current sources of income rather than the health of the liberal system that produces higher incomes for the most people over time. They should be ignored.

Let a thousand China critical voices bloom!

David Llewellyn-Smith
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