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Biden Takes Trump’s Asia Legacy to Forge Security Agenda

Biden, Trump, Asia

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The Interim National Security Strategic Guidance issued by the White House indicates that the entire strategy of the Biden-Harris administration targets China in the same way as the Donald Trump administration did, albeit with different approaches.

One of the successes of Trump’s legacy was the strengthening and securing of American allies in the Indo-Pacific region. It is worth remembering that the former Republican president was the one who most forcefully confronted the advance of the Communist Party of China (CCP).

A White House committed to allies

At the time, Trump bet on strengthening his allies in the Pacific in security matters. In addition to the visits of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior officials to Asia, the sales of military equipment, the defense of the victims of the CCP and the sanctions against the Chinese regime and allied companies, gave the United States a strong role in international politics, with strong impacts on the global economy.

Biden - El American
The United States sold military equipment to Taiwan for US$5.1 billion in 2020. (EFE)

On the other hand, in the guidance the White House reaffirms the American commitment to Taiwan: “We will support Taiwan, a leading democracy and a critical economic and security partner, in line with longstanding American commitments.”

In addition to Australia, Japan and India, which are part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), the White House plans to deepen its relations with South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam and other member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

More interventionism

The White House, from the guidance issued in March 2021, continues the American offensive line on maintaining its leadership but adds components that Biden and Secretary Blinken have repeatedly laid out regarding U.S. inclusion in various organizations.

Blinken said that “wherever the rules are written for international security and the global economy, the United States will be there.” Biden seeks to incorporate the United States into organizations and treaties where it can have influence and not cede leadership to China, according to the document.

The guidance reaffirms the U.S. commitment since the last administration to become more involved in Asia with a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

General view of the 7th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers Meeting. Guidance provided by the White House seeks to deepen ties with ASEAN.(EFE)

The American stance to have a stronger presence in Asia runs counter to pressures from the CCP, which wants to see Washington out of the region.

“We will position ourselves, diplomatically and militarily, to defend our allies,” mentions the guidance, where Biden pledges to support its trading partners, challenge China’s human rights abuses and unfair trade practices.

Technological leadership

Biden’s interim document maintains strategies where the U.S. focuses on maintaining its edge in advanced technology, despite the blow received by China with the 5G framework and the large number of technology patent applications by Chinese companies.

The United States remained in second place, “with applications up 3% to 59,230.” The Biden and Trump administrations have denounced intellectual property rights infringements by China and forced technology transfers.

The White House seeks to maintain U.S. leadership in the technology sector by investing “hundreds of millions of dollars in funding in areas such as artificial intelligence and clean energy.”

The Trump administration initiated the development of the 6G telecommunications network and along with sanctions on China set the course continued by Biden in securing a supply chain such as semiconductors and rare earth minerals. The document also explores the possibilities of “a robust immigration policy to attract top-tier talent,” the press reported.

Camilo Bello is a consultant focused on Asia Pacific studies and has experience in strategic management. He has studied law in Colombia and is currently pursuing studies in language and history at National Taiwan Normal University. He has collaborated with Students for Freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan // Camilo es consultor enfocado en estudios de Asia Pacífico y experiencia en gestión estratégica. Cuenta con estudios en Derecho en Colombia y actualmente se encuentra realizando estudios en lenguaje e historia en National Taiwan Normal University. Colaborador de Estudiantes por la Libertad en Hong Kong y Taiwán

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