Biden Gets No Fresh Starts on Complicated U.S. Foreign Policy

“America is back,” President Biden said in February, promising a diplomacy-centered reset of foreign policy. When it comes to three fraught relationships, the approach so far is a mix of continuity and change. 

Trade war, China’s claims over Taiwan and the South China Sea, human-rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong

● Biden has maintained his predecessor’s tough rhetoric toward the U.S.’s main rival and has declined to lift the tariffs Trump imposed. 
● Early meetings with the leaders of India, Japan, and South Korea suggest the administration is shoring up alliances in the Indo-Pacific to counter Beijing. 
Taiwan is a flash point: Chinese fighter jets have repeatedly entered Taiwan’s air defense zone in April, and Biden sent an unofficial U.S. delegation to Taipei as a show of support.

Hacking and election interference, increased military presence at the Ukraine border, treatment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny

● Biden imposed fresh sanctions on April 15, including restrictions on buying new sovereign debt, in response to allegations that Moscow was behind the hack on SolarWinds Inc. and meddled in last year’s U.S. election. 
● Unlike Trump, who often dismissed evidence of misdeeds by Vladimir Putin, Biden has warned that Russia and its president will “pay a price.” Yet he has tried to limit escalation, saying after announcing sanctions that he seeks a “stable, predictable relationship” with Moscow. 
● “There will be consequences” for Russia if the imprisoned and seriously ill Navalny, who blames Russia for poisoning him, dies, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on April 18.

Reviving the nuclear deal the U.S. pulled out of in 2018

● An April 11 bombing of the Natanz nuclear facility, attributed to Israel, prompted Iran to say it would further enrich uranium. Biden criticized Iran, but indirect talks have continued. The president campaigned on a return to the 2015 accord, which Trump abandoned. 
● Along with renewing the deal, Biden hopes to end the war in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and Iran are backing opposite sides. The U.S. recently terminated its support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

With assistance from Bloomberg

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