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Washington – AFP
On Wednesday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a directive to Pentagon officials asking for increased focus on China, which the United States regards as its biggest strategic rival. “Now it’s up to the administration to continue working,” Austin said after issuing an internal directive.
The order, the details of which are classified, follows an assessment in February by a task force set up by the Biden administration to review the Defense Department’s strategy for China.
“The initiatives I am outlining today are intertwined with the US government’s broader approach to China and will help advance the national defense strategy we are working on,” Austin said.
For its part, a senior Defense Ministry official pointed out that the working group identified “a gap between words and actions between declared priorities for China and what we have seen in a number of areas.”
“The directive adopted today is related to the ministry’s observance of these priorities,” the official added.
Austin said the order “will improve the department’s ability to energize our network of allies and partners, strengthen containment, and accelerate the development of new operational concepts and emerging capabilities.”
In 2018, the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy identified China as the main strategic competitor, but the task force found that little had been done to address the challenges posed by Beijing.
The US military is currently seeking to expand its presence in the Pacific at a time of rising hostility from Beijing towards Taiwan, which China considers an integral part of its territory.
The United States also maintains a large military presence in the Middle East, even as it has begun to withdraw its remaining soldiers from Afghanistan. To ensure the implementation of his directive, Austin will be personally responsible for implementing the confidential recommendations of the task force.
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