Acting US Defence Chief’s first order of business: issues cautions against China

Patrick M. Shanahan, the new acting defence secretary pictured beside President Trump at a White House cabinet meeting on his first full day in office.

DHARAMSALA, Jan 3: The US’ acting Secretary of Defence has issued cautions against China on his first full day in his new role at the Pentagon.

Patrick M. Shanahan, the acting US defence secretary has reportedly singled out China as a key priority in a “great power competition” at a special meeting of all the military service secretaries and the undersecretaries of defence at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

“While we’re focused on ongoing operations acting Secretary Shanahan told the team to remember China, China China,” CNN quoted an unnamed defence official as saying in its report.

Shanahan, a former Boeing executive was appointed the acting secretary of defence after James Mattis resigned from the post after US president Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops from Syria, an unpopular move amongst Trump’s most senior military and diplomatic advisers.

“In 2019, the National Defence Strategy remains our guide. America’s military strength remains our focus,” Shanahan tweeted earlier in his New Year message.

The national defence strategy, released by Mattis in January last year has described China as “a strategic competitor” that “will continue to pursue a military modernisation program that seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near term and displacement of the United States to achieve global pre-eminence in the future,” noted a report on South China Morning Post.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump signed into law on Monday, the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, a wide-ranging new Asian-security law to counter growing Chinese military power in the region and to bolster comprehensive American cooperation with Asian countries.

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