Biden announces Pentagon task force to eye ‘growing challenges’ with China strategy

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WASHINGTON — A new Department of Defense task force will examine the US-China military posture and it’s “growing challenges,” President Biden announced Wednesday during his first visit to the Pentagon as commander in chief.

The panel will work quickly to present Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin with recommendations on military strategy as relations between Washington and Beijing grow increasingly strained in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and a years-long trade war.

“We need to meet the growing challenges posed by China to keep peace and defend our interests in the Indo-Pacific and globally,” Biden said, referring to a region which includes the heavily-contested South China Sea.

“Today, I was briefed on a new DOD China Task Force that Secretary Austin is standing up to look at our strategy and operational concepts, technology and force posture and so much more,” Biden continued.

“The task force will work quickly drawn on civilian and military experts across the department to provide within the next few months recommendations to Secretary Austin on key priorities and decision points, so that we can chart a strong path forward on China related matters,” he said.

“It’s going to require a whole government effort, bipartisan cooperation in Congress, and strong alliances and partnerships. That’s how we’ll meet the China challenge and ensure the American people win the competition of the future.”

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President Joe Biden speaks to Department of Defense personnel at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.

AP

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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the Pentagon alongside President Joe Biden.

REUTERS

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The shifting US-China alliance poses one of the greatest foreign policy challenges to Biden’s presidency.

Under uncompromising predecessor Donald Trump, the US slapped Chinese goods with steep tariffs, took President Xi Jinping to task for the country’s mishandling of the first cases of the coronavirus pandemic, and condemned human rights abuses against Uighurs.

In an interview with CBS News over the weekend, Biden acknowledged China was a growing rival to the US in terms of economic power and military might, but said he would handle matters differently than Trump.

“There’s going to be extreme competition and I’m not going to do it the way that he knows,” Biden said of Jinping.

“I’m not going to do it the way Trump did. We’re going to focus on international rules of the road,” he went on, insisting that there did not need to be conflict between the two countries.

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President Joe Biden elbow bumps Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin as he arrives at the Pentagon.

AP

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President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris walk with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley as they arrive at the Pentagon.

UPI

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President Joe Biden says Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “is standing up to look at our strategy and operational concepts, technology and force posture and so much more.”

EPA

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While Communist Beijing described the new Biden administration as “a new window of hope” for US relations, the relationship is off to a rocky start.

China’s foreign ministry dismissed Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s appeals to work together on climate change after he said he agreed that the Chinese government’s treatment of Uighur Muslims amounted to “genocide.” 

“It is impossible to ask for China’s support in global affairs while interfering in its domestic affairs and undermining its interests,” a statement read.

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