We assess that China is likely to take a wait-and-see approach after the presidential transition before using recently issued rules to protect its firms against “unjustified” US laws, mitigate the effects of sanctions, and retaliate against the United States for its continued sanctions pressure. In addition to its “Unreliable Entities” list and export-control law, China has recently augmented its toolbox to allow it to lessen the effects of US sanctions and strike back at the United States by creating additional compliance burdens or imposing trade restrictions on US firms and multinational corporations.
Although the new Biden administration will probably maintain many of the foreign policy goals and sanctions programs used by its predecessor, FiveBy anticipates that the president-elect will prioritize rebuilding relationships with allies to enhance the effectiveness of US sanctions. The Biden administration will almost certainly use these newly rebuilt relationships to coordinate on multilateral sanctions programs that emphasize human rights, with particular focus on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia. The Biden administration will also probably take gradual diplomatic steps to engage with Iran on reducing its nuclear activities, rather than immediately rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Despite initial efforts to hold Russia accountable for the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny by connecting the incident with Nord Stream 2 security concerns, Europe is showing resolve to separate the two issues and continue the pipeline project. Meanwhile, US commitment to increase the scope of sanctions against the pipeline has grown, and additional, harsher measures are included in the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). FiveBy believes that German regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) and German port operating company Fährhafen Sassnitz GmbH, Norwegian insurer Det Norske Veritas, as well as the Russian flagged vessels Akademik Cherskiy, and Fortuna are vulnerable to US sanctions. Read more
In a press release on July 24, 2020, National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) Director William Evanina highlighted foreign threats to the 2020 US election, specifically focusing on China, Iran, and Russia’s efforts to undermine US citizens’ confidence in their government institutions. Influence measures on social and traditional media to sway US voters’ preferences during a particularly contentious election year have been pervasive and diverse. However, we assess that foreign actors’ efforts this election season are just the tip of the iceberg.