Biden signals major changes in US foreign policy

Photo: EPA

US President Joe Biden on Thursday declared “America is back” on the global stage in his first diplomatic address as president, news wires reported. “America is back, diplomacy is back,” Biden said at the State Department, adding that his administration would work toward “reclaiming our credibility and moral authority.”

In his speech, Biden signaled aggressive approaches to China and Russia, urged Myanmar’s military leaders to halt their coup, and declared an end to US support for a Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen, Reuters noted.

“American leadership must meet this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy. We must meet the new moment ... accelerating global challenges from the pandemic to the climate crisis to nuclear proliferation,” Biden said.

His choice of the State Department as venue for his first big diplomatic address was an important symbol of the value he places in career diplomats, who Trump largely saw as opponents.

“American alliances are our greatest asset. And leading with diplomacy means standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies and key partners once again,” Biden said.

Biden in his early days has attempted to repair what he has called the damage to America’s standing around the world, rolling back Trump policies. He is working to revive the Iran deal, and renewed US membership in the Paris accord and the World Health Organization.

In his speech he challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I made it clear to President Putin, in a manner very different from my predecessor, that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions, interfering with our elections, cyberattacks, poisoning its citizens, are over,” he said.

Trump had initially sought a warm relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping but differences over trade, Hong Kong and what the US military calls Beijing’s destabilizing and aggressive behavior in the South China Sea prompted a rift.

China, which is expanding its military and working to grow its influence around the world, is perhaps Biden’s biggest international challenge as he begins his presidency. He called Beijing “our most serious competitor.” “We’ll confront China’s economic abuses, counter its aggressive, coercive action to push back on China’s attack on human rights, intellectual property and global governance. But we’re ready to work with Beijing when it’s in America’s interest to do so,” Biden said.

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