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Inauguration Day marks a welcome opportunity to reset – and relax

The shock of the mob assault on the Capitol and, indeed, on the democratic process, will take a long time to resolve, but it will not be forgotten. Mr Trump has been impeached, again – the second time in just over a year – and he faces a trial before the Senate from as early as January 20.

The trial process will undoubtedly rile many of Mr Trump’s ardent supporters and perhaps stir further unrest and division. But accountability is necessary, especially for a lame-duck president who incited a violent insurrection.

To be sure, the bilateral relationship with Australia will not be an immediate priority for the Biden Administration. It remains strong, as it has for many decades, and it will endure despite presidents who come and go – even one described by academics as the worst ever.

China, though, and its aggressive ambition in the greater Indo-Pacific region, will need particular focus.

As Anthony Galloway writes in The Sun-Herald today, key members of Biden’s administration team are firmly of the view that China is now, in foreign policy terms, competing with the US for regional influence, and America needs to get off the couch and get “invested” in its alliances.

Former foreign minister Julie Bishop underscores that Mr Biden is a known quantity, having served two terms as vice-president under Barack Obama and having been a senator for an unbroken 36 years from 1973 to 2009.

As Galloway writes, Australian government officials who deal with the US on trade, diplomacy and other issues already have a solid grasp of what the experienced Mr Biden is about.

He is considered an internationalist, an adherent to organisations that improve international co-operation. How deftly the new Biden Administration manages its suite of alliances in the western Pacific and greater Asia these next few years could well determine the region’s political, economic and defence direction for generations to come.

So it is in Australia’s interests to act swiftly and be ready to engage meaningfully with the Biden Administration from day one. And after four years in which Australia has sometimes been accused of cosying up to Trump, it is also an opportunity to reset the way the world sees our relationship with America.

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