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Kurt Campbell, a former U.S. naval officer, will be in charge of designing U.S. foreign policy for Asia in Joe Biden’s administration. The press has reported that Biden plans to announce this new Asian-related position on the National Security Council soon.
The news has reassured those who have supported Trump’s work in Asia to combat the Chinese Communist Party and Washington’s allies in the Indo Pacific region.
Campbell has experience in the region and is particularly close to South Korea and Japan officials. Despite working on the Obama administration’s failed strategy, the former official has supported Trump’s policies that strengthened the United States in the region.
Kurt Campbell’s stance has been to curb China’s military and economic growth. The media has reported that he is betting on the United States to develop high-level programs to compete with China, such as the 5G network and more sophisticated military developments.
The United States has regained its strength in the Indo Pacific region. However, the Trump administration took strong positions with allies like Japan, imposing heavy taxes on their products and failing to finalize a military defense plan with Tokyo.
According to the Washington Post, Biden’s move is viewed favorably by ¨those Asian experts in Washington who expect the Biden administration to take a more competitive approach to dealing with China than the Obama administration.¨
Kurt Campbell, a coordinator for the Asia-Pacific region
Kurt Campbell’s position in the incoming administration would be that of coordinator for U.S. relations with Asia including China, according to press reports.
Before being nominated by Biden, Campbell has been involved with the Asian region to the point that in December 2020, at a virtual security conference in Taiwan, Campbell showed his support for the current administration’s policies toward Pacific allies.
Kurt Campbell has said that the United States should focus on developing strategies to confront China with concrete allied support and competitive programs with China, without necessarily closing the door on Beijing.
Biden’s bet for China is to convene democracies to pressure Beijing, a task that would follow the strategies executed by Trump. However, President Trump failed to deliver on some of the promises about weakening China.
For example, Reuters reported that Campbell, despite supporting Trump’s “unprecedented summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un,” noted Trump’s weakness in “persuading Kim to abandon nuclear weapons.”
Another key aspect that Kurt Campbell has highlighted, according to Radio Free Asia, is strengthening cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
According to the media, the Trump administration did not participate in the ASEAN summits. For Biden’s advisors, including Kurt Campbell, Southeast Asia is key to combating China’s influence.
Reactions in the Pacific
Strengthening the defense of America’s allies is crucial. Japan has asked Biden to show clarity on how it will handle the continuing Chinese threat to invade Taiwan and a portion of Japan’s territory.
Kurt Campbell has expressed the need for the United States to invest in developing “conventional long-range ballistic and cruise missiles, unmanned aircraft carrier attack planes and high-speed attack weapons. He has also suggested that the United States should distribute this military equipment to allies in the region.
At this point, Campbell has fully supported Trump’s policy of selling weapons to Taiwan but hopes to finalize defensive development with Japan, which was thwarted by the current administration.
The Taiwanese representative in the United States congratulated Campbell and urged him to work together to provide concrete solutions for stability and peace in Asia.
Biden’s message from the judgments made on Trump’s foreign policy is to continue on the path he has laid out but to complement it with the proposals that Campbell has made over the last few years, according to the Japanese press.
The Japanese press was satisfied with the nomination of Kurt Campbell as “coordinator of the Indo-Pacific”. It is a show of support for Japan as they highlighted Campbell’s work as a naval officer in Japanese facilities.
Campbell and the bipartisan support for Asia
The international press highlighted Campbell’s appointment as a “sign of the intention” of the next administration to emphasize bipartisan agreements in strategies to make the United States more competitive against China and more open to contributing to its allies in Asia.
It should be noted that the Trump administration and the victims of the Chinese Communist Party have had almost unanimous bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress.
According to the press, Kurt Campbell’s profile is well received by Republicans in Congress as he was in line with many of Trump’s positions and away from Obama’s failures in the past.
For its part, the Chinese press, loyal to the Chinese Communist Party, has expressed that Biden’s presidency will handle more tactfully with diplomacy, but they expect him to maintain many of the policies regarding Beijing.
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