BIDEN LEADERSHIP ANALYZED
Updated: Feb 24
The first month of U.S. President Joe Biden's administration has largely been about turning the page on his predecessor Donald Trump's "America First" unilateralist foreign policies and his unpredictable leadership style, according to Kyodo News.
But the Biden administration has made clear that it will inherit his predecessor's tough line toward China, while how it plans to engage with North Korea remains unclear.
"My impression is that we are seeing a trend of toughness continuing against China," Japanese Ambassador to the United States Koji Tomita said Friday, comparing with the Trump administration that saw an escalation of confrontation with China on various fronts, and virtually no cooperation toward the end of his presidency.
What is different from the Trump era, however, is that the Biden administration is "seeking to work in consultation with allies as it considers its relations with China," the ambassador said during an online press conference.
In a speech on Friday, which became his first address before a global audience since taking office on Jan. 20, Biden rallied countries in Asia and Europe to prepare together for what he views as a "long-term strategic competition with China," citing the need to push back against Beijing's "economic abuses and coercion."
He has also signaled during his recent phone talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping that he will not hold off on defending American values such as human rights and democracy and warned during a televised event of possible "repercussions" for China's crackdowns, such as against the Muslim Uyghur minority in its Xinjiang region.
On the security front, the Biden administration has pledged its "rock-solid" commitment to Taiwan, a self-ruled democratic island facing pressure from Beijing, and affirmed to Japan multiple times that the U.S. defense commitment extends to the Japan-controlled, China-claimed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
The U.S. Navy's so-called freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea have also been carried out twice over the past month, based on announcements by the 7th Fleet, in an effective bid to challenge Chinese claims and actions in the disputed waters.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in late January that a "new U.S. approach" is required toward China to deal with the Asian economic powerhouse that is "growing more authoritarian at home and more assertive abroad."