Biden Nominates Asia Expert for Deputy Secretary of State – U.S. President Joe Biden has selected Kurt Campbell, who serves as the U.S. National Security Council’s coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs, as the second-ranking diplomat at the State Department, right after Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In an email obtained and addressed to State Department staff members, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Campbell’s nomination “comes at a critical inflection point,” coinciding with the United States’ investment in an “unmatched network of alliances and partnerships” in the Indo-Pacific.
Pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Campbell is set to assume the role previously held by Wendy Sherman, who retired on July 28. During the years 2009 to 2013, Campbell served as the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Biden administration’s approach involves a strategy of competing, contesting, and cooperating with China within the context of a progressively intricate diplomatic and economic relationship.
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“We are in competition with China, but we do not seek conflict, confrontation or a new Cold War. We are for managing the competition responsibly,” Campbell told reporters in a briefing on June 14 ahead of a visit by Blinken to Beijing. Both the United States and China have been making arrangements for a November meeting between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, which is scheduled to take place during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in San Francisco.
“I think continuing high-level engagement, practical areas of communication in an environment in which competition remains the dominant theme in our relationship, is what we can hope for and work towards,” Campbell said in a recent interview with China Talk, a newsletter focused on U.S.-China relations. Campbell played a crucial role during the administration of former President Barack Obama in shaping Washington’s “pivot to Asia” policy, which reoriented U.S. foreign policy toward that region.