China has been named number-one “challenge” of the U.S. military in a new directive which vows to lean on allies to confront Beijing after Pentagon showed with the new budget plans that future spending will focus heavily on deterring Chinese aggression.
The new directive, issued by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday, is classified but it has been told that it outlines U.S. military policy toward China after a months-long Pentagon review ordered by the White House in February.
“The initiatives I am putting forward today are nested inside the larger U.S. government approach to China and will help inform the development of the National Defense Strategy we are working on. I am enormously proud of the work put forth by members of the China Task Force.
The efforts I am directing today will improve the Department’s ability to revitalize our network of allies and partners, bolster deterrence, and accelerate the development of new operational concepts, emerging capabilities, future force posture, and a modernized civilian and military workforce,” Austin said in a written statement.
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks further underscored Pentagon’s focus on Beijing on Tuesday, outlinig how a large portion of the department’s $715 billion budget request for 2022 would be devoted to confronting China.
“The [People’s Republic of China] is increasingly competitive, and it has the ability, uniquely, to challenge the international system and American interests within it. In advancing American interests, the department must be ready to not only serve in a supporting role to our diplomatic and economic tools… but to also deter military aggression. This is especially true with regard to the PRC,” she said during a virtual event hosted by the hawkish Center for a New American Security (CNAS).
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command previously requested a $27 billion over the next five years to deter Beijing, also calling for the construction of a sprawling missile network off China’s east coast.
Although President Joe Biden vowed to ditch many of Trump’s policies when he took office, his administration has struggled to distinguish itself from its predecessor when it comes to China while he personally dubbed China a major concern and sought to bolster ties with allies to challenge Beijing, carrying on a similar policy of the previous Donald Trump administration.
Even Hicks highlighted the similarities, noting that Biden’s approach has “threads of continuity” with Trump’s 2018 National Defense Strategy which focused on “great power competition” with China and Russia.