Biden Announces DOD Task Force on China Policy

President Joe Biden on Feb. 10 announced a new Defense Department review of the military’s overall strategy toward China.

Over the next “few months,” the Department of Defense China Task Force will work to define new priorities and “decision points so that we can chart a strong path forward on China-related matters,” Biden told DOD personnel in a speech from the Pentagon briefing room.

The Task Force will be led by Ely Ratner, the special assistant to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, and will include up to 15 civilian and uniformed members from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the military services, combatant commands, and intelligence, according to a DOD fact sheet. The review is expected to focus on key topics such as modernization requirements, basing and access in the Indo-Pacific, intelligence, and alliances, among others.

The results of that review are expected to be released in no more than four months, according to the Pentagon.

Developing a new strategy toward China needs to be a “whole of government effort,” including bipartisan support in Congress, along with alliances and partnerships, Biden said.

“That’s how we’ll meet the China challenge and ensure the American people meet the competition of the future,” Biden said.

Biden was briefed on the task force upon arriving at the Pentagon on Feb. 10 for the first time as President. Austin, in his confirmation hearing Jan. 19, highlighted China’s modernization and growth in the region, saying he will work to make sure China never meets its goal of creating a military stronger than that of the U.S.

China has long been considered a “pacing threat” to the U.S. military, with the 2018 National Defense Strategy highlighting Beijing as a strategic competitor that exerts its influences over neighboring nations and highlighting its militarization of the South China Sea. Austin has said the Pentagon, under his leadership, will update this strategy.