President Joe Biden speaks at the Pentagon in Washington, DC on February 10, 2021.
Alex Brandon | AFP | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday a new Department of Defense task force to assess the US military's China strategy.
"This is how we will meet the China challenge and ensure that the American people win the competition in the future," said Biden on his first visit as Pentagon Commander in Chief.
The new Pentagon group, composed of around 15 experts, will be responsible for making recommendations on China-related issues to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Results and recommendations are due within four months.
"No final public report is expected, although the department will discuss recommendations with Congress and other stakeholders if necessary," the Pentagon wrote in a statement announcing the new task force.
China's influence on global trade and international relations has continued to grow, even as the nation faced accountability calls in the initial response to the Covid-19 crisis.
The novel coronavirus that causes the disease emerged in China in late 2019. Biden asked on Wednesday whether the US would hold China accountable.
United States President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Chief of Staff, will tour African Americans on February 10 to defend our Corridor of Our Nations at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. 2021.
Alex Brandon | Pool | Reuters
Biden, who has not yet spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping, said during a speech at the State Department last week that he would work more closely with allies to secure a backlash against Beijing.
"We will face China's economic abuse," said Biden, describing Beijing as America's "most serious competitor."
Tensions between Beijing and Washington, the world's two largest economies, increased under the Trump administration. In an interview with CBS, Biden said his government was ready for "extreme competition" with China, but his approach would be different from that of his predecessor.
"I will not do it like Trump. We will focus on the international traffic rules," said Biden on Sunday.
Following his remarks at the Pentagon on Wednesday, a reporter asked Biden if he was interested in punishing China for the nation's lack of transparency over the Covid-19 outbreak last year.
"I'm interested in all the facts," Biden said, according to a pool report.
Blinken puts pressure on China
State Secretary Antony Blinken spoke to his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi for the first time at the weekend.
In a tense appeal, Blinken Yang said the US would hold China accountable for addressing a number of issues, including human rights abuses.
Blinken also called on Beijing to condemn the recent military coup in Myanmar.
On Wednesday before, Biden had announced sanctions against military leaders in Myanmar who led the coup on February 1. Biden also reiterated the call for the Myanmar military to abandon the power he had seized and release his prisoners.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States was coordinating with partners to launch "steep and deep" retaliatory measures.
Biden's family ties
Speaking alongside Vice President Kamala Harris and Austin, Biden also took a moment to thank the service members and their civilian supporters.
He is the first president in 40 years to have a child serve in the US military and stationed in a war zone.
"The Biden family know what rural service is like and they understand sacrifice. They know how to care for those who seek leadership," said Austin, who with the president's late son, Beau Biden, cooperated in Iraq in his opening remarks.
After the Pentagon address, Austin took Biden and Harris on a tour of the corridor of the building dedicated to Black Service members.
Austin is the nation's first black Secretary of Defense, and Harris is the first black vice president.