Biden’s First Foreign-Policy Crisis Is Already Here

Biden’s First Foreign-Policy Crisis Is Already Here

China’s threats against Australia cannot go unanswered by the United States.

President-elect Joe Biden has long known that he would face multiple crises upon taking office. America is dealing with terrible challenges at home, from ending the pandemic to healing a fractured civil society. But even in 2020, Biden may not have expected his first foreign-policy crisis quite so soon. On the campaign trail, Biden and his advisors promised that they would restore the country’s standing in the world, rebuild shattered alliances, and restore international trust in the strength of U.S. diplomacy. Yet just days after Biden’s election, Beijing took concerted action to subvert these aims. This attempt to undermine the American alliance system demands a firm response from Biden as soon as he comes to power.

China’s challenge has come first in Australia. Shocked by Communist Party interference in Australian society and alarmed by the scope of Chinese geopolitical ambitions, two successive Australian governments have worked closely with the United States and other Indo-Pacific partners to build up one of the world’s most robust responses to Beijing’s designs for a new global order. In addition to close cooperation with American military services and intelligence agencies, as well as participation in regional security exercises and military agreements, Canberra has called out Chinese cyberattacks on Australian soilrejected Chinese claims in the South China Sea, passed a suite of laws aiming to limit the scope of communist infiltration and bribery on Australian shores, and worked to diversify its economy away from dependence on China.