Joe Biden is set to appoint Kurt Campbell, a seasoned foreign policy expert, to take on the newly created role of Tsar of Asia, in a move designed to reflect the growing importance of US-Chinese relations.
The president-elect will soon announce his choice of Mr. Campbell, a former senior Pentagon official who was also the top State Department official for Asia under the Obama administration, three people familiar with the move have said.
the Financial Times reported last month that Mr Biden was considering creating the new White House post because of the growing importance attached to solving a wide range of challenges facing China.
A person familiar with the decision said it was made in part because of the need to better integrate Chinese politics across different government agencies with a veteran expert from Asia at the helm. The person said Biden recognizes China is an issue that every government agency – not just traditional foreign policy, defense and economic departments – should face more than in the past.
Mr Biden will take office on January 20 to face a range of challenges, from how to handle Beijing’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong to trade policy. It will also have to decide whether or not to maintain some of the tougher actions on China that Donald Trump launched during his last months in office.
Mr. Campbell is close to Anthony Blinken, the new secretary of state, and Jake Sullivan, the new national security adviser. He is married to Lael Brainard, a Federal Reserve Governor who was due to become Treasury Secretary but who lost to Janet Yellen, the former Fed Governor.
Along with Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Campbell, who has close ties to policymakers in Japan, is considered one of China’s most belligerent Democrats. In an article two years ago in Foreign Affairs magazine, he said Washington needed to “clearly rethink” its approach to Beijing after years when the US foreign policy establishment had misplaced the trajectory of the country. China.
“Nearly half a century after Nixon’s first steps towards rapprochement, the record is increasingly clear that Washington has once again put too much faith in its power to shape China’s trajectory,” wrote Mr. Campbell with Ely Ratner, which is expected to become the first Asian Pentagon. official.
In another Foreign Affairs article this monthCampbell said the US strategy for the Indo-Pacific region would benefit from lessons from European history, including “the need for an allied and partner coalition to meet China’s challenge to both”. He said the Trump administration has caused enormous tensions over alliances in Asia.
Mr Biden signaled that rebuilding relations with the United States, especially with the aim of creating more leverage with China, would be a top priority.
“Donald Trump himself has strained virtually every element of the region’s operating system,” Campbell wrote with Rush Doshi, an expert on China expected to be appointed Chinese director at the National Security Council .
Biden’s transition team did not respond to a request for comment.
To follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter