On a trip to Australia in 2016, then vice-president Joe Biden told a Sydney audience the United States was in the Asia-Pacific region for the long haul.
Three months later, Donald Trump was elected US President promising an "America first" foreign policy that threw governments around the world a national security curve ball.
Biden will move into the White House in January preparing to deal with an Asia-Pacific region much changed from the one he visited in the final months of the Obama administration.
Since then, a more assertive China has laid bare its ambitions for regional supremacy. Trump entered a trade conflict with the rising superpower that remains unresolved, and a network of regional alliances pushing back against China has formed between the US, Japan, India and Australia.
The Asia-Pacific region has changed since Biden's 2016 Lowy Institute address, but have events altered his views about his nation's role there? What does his election victory mean for Australia's national security outlook, and will policymakers need to change tack?
Defence and security experts who have spoken to The Canberra Times are split on whether Biden's election victory changed much for Australia, whose alliance with the US has emerged from the Trump years unharmed. The one view they have in common is that President-elect Biden will not be bad for Australian security.
There is also agreement his election has changed the Asia-Pacific region's course, at least slightly.
A re-elected Trump would have made events harder to predict, Australian National University US foreign policy expert Charles Miller says.
"Trump could have veered off in either direction - either more recklessly aggressive towards China, promoting a hands-off relationship with the region or even drawing closer to China," he says.
"The point is, instability and unpredictability would have ensued, to everyone's loss."
Biden on the world stage is expected to be a more known quantity, compared to his predecessor: inclined to multilateralism, not so transactional, less combative in his rhetoric, and more likely to listen to US allies.
His administration will likely rebuild the gutted US State Department. As he looks to repair relations with European allies that fell afoul of Trump, Biden could be less immediately focused on the Indo-Pacific.
There's little in it for Biden to release the pressure that Trump had already imposed on allies, including Australia, to do more.Professor John Blaxland
When he engages with Asia, the President-elect is expected to change America's approach to its rival superpower. His election is a circuit breaker after years of growing tension between the US and China, according to Australian National University international security and intelligence expert John Blaxland.
"That provides an opportunity, a window for both Beijing and the United States to start using less inflammatory rhetoric and that has implications for Australia about how we posture ourselves in light of the growing trade tussle," he says.
"Australia is very much the meat in the sandwich in this. Australia has, in a way that's congruent with Australia's interests, identified closely with US policy on pushing back on China.
"This is an important inflection point."
Biden could look for common ground with China on climate change and other issues. National security experts say his rhetoric will be softer in tone, and more consistent with Washington's traditional approach to diplomacy. However the President-elect is not expected to soften the US stance on the Chinese Communist Party's growing assertiveness.
Australian Strategic Policy Institute executive director Peter Jennings says Biden won't repeat the Obama administration's approach to China.
"A big difference between 2020 and 2016 is now there's a list of really big, tough problems between China and the US that will not go away just because Biden has been elected," he says.
"And so therefore you're going to see an America that will continue to be tough on China, but now hopefully tough on China with a consensus-building approach amongst the allies, and that could be a positive thing."
In the US election, the Democrats signalled they had adapted their views to the times, running ads during the campaign promising to reduce American dependence on China.
Former Australian ambassador to the US Dennis Richardson says there will be more continuity than discontinuity in the US-China relationship under Biden.
The economic and strategic reasons for the rivalry remain, and will propel it forward, he says.
Other experts predict President-elect Biden will likely embrace the Quad, the new forum of alliances between the US, Japan, India and Australia counterbalancing China.
Compared to Trump, Biden has taken a less transactional view of the US-Australia alliance. On his 2016 visit to Australia he spoke of the nation's shared values with the US, and described the relationship through the prism of his own family.
The then vice-president took three of his granddaughters on the trip, "to see first hand the energy and the spirit of this incredible country". He described how his uncles had served in New Guinea, a formative theatre of the US-Australia alliance in World War II. About 60 years later his deceased son Beau had also fought alongside Australians overseas while in the US military.
But the US relationship with Australia should not run on nostalgia, Biden said. He punctuated his Lowy Institute speech in Sydney with a moment of bracing realpolitik: "We are not doing anyone any favours. It's overwhelmingly in our interests, overwhelmingly, that Australia continue to grow, succeed and prosper."
Biden said: "The partnership between Australia and America is at the core of our vision for the region's future. It's not what we can do for Australia, it's what we can do with Australia."
Defence and national security experts say that American expectations of Australia will likely grow in the Asia-Pacific. They disagree on whether that trend accelerates, or simply continues, under the Biden administration.
Professor Blaxland says while Australia's growing defence spend stopped the nation attracting Trump's ire, the President's scorn for "freeloading" allies carried an implicit warning to do more.
"The incentives for Australia to continue to invest in defence, to build its relations in the Pacific and south-east Asia, those incentives are still there," he says.
"There's little in it for Biden to release the pressure that Trump had already imposed on allies, including Australia, to do more."
If anything, the pressure will be greater for Australia to help the US in its regional objectives, Professor Blaxland says.
"The rhetoric and the policy focus will probably be a bit more reasonable and so the pressure will continue to be on for Australia to do more in the Pacific and do more in south-east Asia."
Mr Jennings says the federal government's new defence strategy, announced in July, will fit into Biden's agenda for the region but that Australia should not expect a cake walk with its ally.
"America might start asking some fairly challenging questions of us about freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, about Taiwan, about climate. But they are the things we would normally expect from a US that's engaging allies to talk and discuss these things and share policy approaches," he says.
There is also an opportunity for Australia to inject its ideas into the Biden administration's thinking, and shape policies in a way that suited Australian interests, Mr Jennings says.
Commonwealth public servants will need to prepare for the next AUSMIN talks between Australia and the US, and to engage with their new counterparts in the Biden administration as they're appointed from February to April.
"When you get into the second quarter of the year, that's the time when we really should be looking quite intensely to shaping an agenda for cooperation with the Americans," Mr Jennings says.
"Policy creativity is what's really needed now in order for us to take advantage of the new team that should be coming into key positions in Washington in the first quarter of next year."
In some ways, a lot of the work might already be done. Contrary to the common view that Australian foreign policy lacks creativity, ANU national security expert Rory Medcalf says it has been creative in setting the stage for the US to re-engage with Asia.
"Australia's very well-positioned in these circumstances," he says.
Australia in recent years has insured against Chinese assertiveness and American dysfunction with greater use of "mini-lateral" diplomacy - small groups of allies such as the Quad - and new partnerships with nations such as India.
"The challenge now is to leverage that, to follow through, to make it clear to the depleted State Department as it rebuilds itself, as America rebuilds a lot of its diplomatic credibility in the region, that we've been here all along," Professor Medcalf says.
He warns against complacency that Biden's election will bring back the US that Australia knew before 2016.
"A Biden administration will have its own priorities, will have its own weaknesses and Australia will just need to keep prosecuting our interests every step of the way."