What Biden's cabinet picks mean for the 'new Cold War' with China

ABDULLAH MURADOĞLU,  Sunday 15:46, 07 February 2021

In my previous column, I talked about U.S. president Joe Biden’s intention to wind back the clock and return America to its "pre-Trump days," that is to say, restore its global network of alliances. I also cited various assessments that show how the leading position traditionally occupied by the U.S. within the global relations network dubbed as the "international liberal order" has been gradually weakening since the early 2000s. Studies had revealed the extent of the widespread and deep-seated distrust of the United States.

The war over influence between “Rising China” and U.S. is now being called the "new Cold War." The Biden administration wants to halt China's economic rise and geopolitical expansion, even if employs different tactics than those championed by Trump who had hawks advocating for trade wars against China. Peter Navarro, Director of the National Trade Council and Senior Trade Adviser, was chief among them. He was also the author of a string of China-centric books titled "Death by China", "The Coming China Wars" and " Crouching Tiger: What China's Militarism Means for the World."

Biden's foreign policy and national security team is chock-full of names who argue that the U.S. should direct its energy towards the "Asia-Pacific". Former U.S. President Barack Obama was of the same opinion. In fact, many members of the Biden team had served in the Obama administration.

Some appointments made to the National Security Council (NSC) a few days ago shed light on how the Biden Administration's Chinese policy will take shape. This list includes many people who advocate hawkish policies against China. Rush Doshi ranks first among the names on the list. Known as the "Chinese expert", Doshi is the author of the book "The Long Game: China's Grand Strategy to Displace American Order". It is scheduled to be published by "Oxford University" in July.

In the book's introduction, it is stated that for over a century, no single adversary country or a group of adversaries, including the Soviet Union, has reached even sixty percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Pointing that the only exception is China and that it has quickly become a global power that can compete with the U.S., the author poses the following questions: "What does China want? does it have a grand strategy to achieve this? and what must the U.S. do?"

Rush Doshi will hold the post of the "China Director" in the National Security Council. Doshi's close friend Kurt Campbell, with whom he co-penned several articles, will lead the "Indo-Pacific" portfolio.

The Indo-Pacific desk will be the Council's largest regional directorate. These appointments show that China is foremost on the U.S.’s agenda.

Describing the relationship between the U.S. and China as a "strategic competition", Campbell was the founding partner and manager of "The Asia Group," which provides strategic commercial consultancy to facilitate the access of American companies to Asian markets. We shouldn’t forget that Campbell, who is a member of The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), served as the Deputy Minister of Asia-Pacific affairs at the Department of State under the Obama administration.

According to reports making the rounds in U.S. media, China will be the number one priority when it comes to the agenda of the "National Security Council." It is said that China will figure in every discussion, especially with regards to technology, health, cyber defense, artificial intelligence, international economy, biological defense, democracy and human rights.

At the end of last December, it was announced that a “Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI)" was reached between the European Union and China. The deal was met with concern by the Bien administration. Prior to the announcement of the deal, Biden's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan announced on his Twitter account that the Biden-Harris Administration would welcome early consultations with its European friends on "common concerns" regarding China's economic policies. In a speech given by Sullivan on Jan. 29, he repeatedly emphasized that he wanted to establish an effective alliance to counter China's economic practices and that the most critical and indispensable element of this alliance was the U.S.’s "European allies."

It is becoming clear that the Biden administration will try to restore its alliance with Europe to its previous state amid the geopolitical competition with China under the "New Cold War." So how will Europeans receive Biden’s overtures? I’m going to address this question in my next column.

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