WASHIGTON: US President Joe Biden announced Wednesday the formation of a special defense department task force on China and ordered an immediate review of the military’s strategic approach to the challenge from Beijing.
Speaking during a visit to the Pentagon, Biden said the review was crucial “so that we can chart a strong path forward on China-related matters that will require a whole-of-government effort.”
“We need to meet the growing challenges posed by China to keep peace and defend our interests in the Indo-Pacific and globally,” he added.
The new 15-member task force was given four months to come up with assessments and recommendations on US military strategy toward China; technology, force structure and force posture; and alliances and bilateral defense relations with Beijing.
He said the Pentagon review needed to be backed by both political parties and Congress, and from allies and other partnerships.
“That’s how we will meet the China challenge and ensure the American people win the competition in the future,” he said.
Under Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, the Pentagon made countering China its top priority, something defense secretary Lloyd Austin has signaled will continue.
Earlier this week, two US carrier groups conducted joint exercises in the South China Sea, as China accused the United States of damaging peace and stability.
The United States has contested China’s extensive territorial claims in the region, accusing it of militarizing the South China Sea and trying to intimidate neighbors such as Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, which have claims that overlap with China’s in the resource-rich area.
But recent interactions between Chinese and American forces in the South China Sea have been safe and professional, officials say.
It was Biden’s first visit to the Pentagon since his January 20 inauguration as president.