Asia Veteran Kurt Campbell Nominated U.S. Deputy Secretary of State

On November 1, U.S. President Joe Biden nominated Kurt Campbell to be deputy secretary of state, the second highest position in the State Department. Campbell is a seasoned Asia policy official who previously held positions at the State Department and the Pentagon. He was also the driving force behind efforts to strengthen ties with U.S. allies and partners in Asia and Europe.

Campbell has been the National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific since 2021, a position some in the media have dubbed the “Asia Tsar.” Most recently, he was credited with assisting Japan and South Korea in resolving historical wartime disputes and bringing both countries’ leaders together for a historic summit with Biden at Camp David.

If approved, the nomination would likely prove beneficial to U.S.-Taiwan relations. A long-term advocate for Taiwan, Campbell has met with Presidents Tsai Ing-wen, Ma Ying-jeou, and Chen Shui-bian. He was awarded the Order of Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon in 2013 by then-President Ma for his contributions to strengthening the bilateral relationship.

In February, Campbell attended a seven-hour closed-door meeting with Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and National Security Council Secretary General Wellington Koo at the American Institute in Taiwan headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Notably, Campbell has had a long association with AmCham Taiwan. He has met with the Chamber’s Doorknock delegations on numerous occasions, both while serving in government and in a private capacity between government appointments.

“When the Doorknock group went to Washington in 2009, Campbell had been nominated by President Obama to become Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, but he had not yet been confirmed by the Senate,” recalls AmCham Senior Advisor Don Shapiro. “As a result he couldn’t receive us in a State Department office. Instead, we had a long chat with him while standing in the lobby downstairs.”

Campbell visited the AmCham office in Taipei in the early 2000s after leaving office as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific. He later also received Doorknock delegations as co-founder and CEO of the Center for a New American Security think tank in 2008 and as founder, chairman, and CEO of The Asia Group, an influential strategy advisory firm, in 2014.