Biden's White House staff 'rational, consistent,' echoes style of Biden

By Yang Sheng, Chen Qingqing and Liu Xin Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/18 22:38:40

China does not expect all bilateral issues solved

Infographic: GT

While Joe Biden appointed key posts in the White House - who are believed to be his loyal and long-term aides - some Chinese observers see those senior staff as "the brains of Biden." They are believed to echo the characteristics of Biden as "rational and consistent," with a decision-making process incorporated with different opinions. 

Biden named a team of close advisers on local time Tuesday, including his top campaign and longtime advisers. Mike Donilon, the chief strategist who focused on the advertising and speeches of Biden's campaign, will be a senior adviser to Biden, CNN reported. And Steve Ricchetti, the Biden campaign chairman and a veteran of the Barack Obama and Bill Clinton White Houses, will be a counselor to the president, the report said. 

The persons selected by Biden so far mostly focus on domestic issues rather than foreign affairs. Chinese analysts said they still need time to observe and learn the new team members' real ideas on China. Very likely, the Biden team on foreign affairs will mostly be similar to the Obama administration in terms of ideas.  

The announcements were made after Biden chose Ron Klain, who is known for serving as former president Obama's "Ebola czar" for being quick and effective in the Ebola response, as his chief of staff. And Ricchetti will serve in the "wise man role," according to the New York Times. 

"The choice of the White House's senior staff is in line with Biden's style and his political path. As those close aides who will work side by side with him at the White House are experienced veterans, they won't go extreme on advice," Yuan Zheng, a senior fellow of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

It's also believed in some US media reports that Biden's choice of Klain to run the White House shows that Biden intends to heavily rely on experienced, competent people that would help end Trump-era chaos. 

As a senior politician who had spent decades in dealing with different departments, Biden has more than enough experience in keeping the balance of his team and other administrative departments, and may possibly take a middle-of-the-road line, Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

However, the relationship between Biden and his close aides, and the administration behind of the curtain have always been complex and subtle, as the president always needs more professional opinions on specific issues, including foreign policy and national security, experts said. 

"Instead of listening to certain groups, Biden, as a moderate representing the pro-establishment camp, will likely take in different advice and focus on some of his top priorities in the transition period," Yuan said. 

Usually, a member with a strong personality in the White House team who has also earned the president's trust may play an important role in US policies. For example, Henry Kissinger engaged with China before other administrative departments took action when serving under Richard Nixon. 

Shen Yi, a professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University, said that China won't expect a new US president and his team to totally wipe out all problems and structural contradictions between the two countries, but at least, if Biden can return to the mind-set of "solving problems by pragmatical dialogue and negotiations," that would be extremely helpful.

"Within his team, there will be some pro-establishment elites who would like to be tougher to China on human right issues and to reorganize US allies and build an international coalition to contain China. To what extent Biden can control them would be significant for the recovery of China-US relations," Shen noted.

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