Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as the President and Vice President of the United States this Wednesday at noon. Minutes later, Beijing placed sanctions on 28 outgoing Trump administration officials. The sanctions, which target almost all of former President Donald Trump's China team, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien, and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, drew criticism from the Biden administration. "Imposing these sanctions on Inauguration Day is seemingly an attempt to play to partisan divides," said Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for President Biden's National Security Council.
The new administration has much work to do on U.S.-China relations, which may be complicated by the former administration's last-minute changes to its China policy. In addition to the lifting of restrictions between Taiwanese and American officials last week, the State Department also designated China's treatment of Uighur Muslims as "genocide," less than 24 hours before Joe Biden's inauguration.
Meanwhile, experts have their eyes on Biden's cabinet picks and who will be heading the new administration's policy towards China. Retired four-star general Lloyd Austin has been confirmed as Defense Secretary, and promised to have a "laser-like focus" on issues related to China. Ely Ratner, former deputy national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden from 2015 to 2017, has been named special assistant to the Secretary of Defense, while Kurt Campbell has also been named Indo-Pacific Coordinator, with Laura Rosenberger and Rush Doshi given posts on the National Security Council. For more on the Biden administration's strategy for China, read To Win Over Allies, U.S. Must Moderate Anti-China Agenda from Doug Bandow, former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and Senior Fellow at the CATO Institute.
Prepared by China-US Focus editorial teams in Hong Kong and New York, this weekly newsletter offers you snap shots of latest trends and developments emerging from China every week, while adding a dose of historical perspective.