Proposed Biden Defense Budget Names China as ‘Primary Strategic Challenge’

By John Haughey
John Haughey
John Haughey
John Haughey has been a working journalist since 1978 with an extensive background in local government, state legislatures, and growth and development. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, he is a Navy veteran who fought fires at sea during three deployments aboard USS Constellation. He’s been a reporter for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York, and Florida; a staff writer for Manhattan-based business trade publications.
March 30, 2022 Updated: March 30, 2022

President Joe Biden’s proposed $813 billion national security spending request to Congress includes $773 billion in direct allocations for the U.S. military with significant boosts in funding designed to counter the growing military threat in the western Pacific presented by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“This will be among the largest investments in our national security in history. Some people don’t like the increase, but we’re in a different world today,” Biden said Monday while introducing his proposed $1.58 trillion fiscal year 2023 budget plan.

“The world has changed,” he continued. The United States “is once again facing increased competition from other nation states—China and Russia—which are going to require investments to make things like space and cyber and other advanced capabilities, including hypersonics.”

The 149-page budget plan, certain to be significantly amended before the fiscal year begins Oct. 1 by Congress with Republicans vowing to further boost military spending, includes $6.1 billion in funding for the 2023 Pacific Deterrence Initiative,” including $900 million for a new missile warning and tracking system to protect Guam.

Biden’s proposed spending plan also calls for $400 million for the “Countering the People’s Republic of China Malign Influence Fund,” $100 million more than the fiscal year 2022 allocation included in the 2,741-page, $1.5 trillion fiscal year 2022 appropriations bill approved by both chambers less than two weeks ago, five months after fiscal year 2022 began.

For the first time, the Biden administration’s defense budget focuses on the PRC as the nation’s “primary strategic challenge,” despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and boosted funding for European security.

The Pentagon said the proposed budget “prioritizes China as the preeminent pacing challenge while developing capabilities and operational concepts in the Indo-Pacific.”

Russia, indeed poses an “acute threat” to international peace, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks told reporters Monday at the Pentagon, but added the PRC is now the United States’ “most consequential strategic competitor and pacing challenge.”

An unnamed senior defense official told reporters during the same budget briefing: “If you look across the board at their capability, their economy, China remains our most challenging strategic threat. That’s what the strategy says, that’s what the budget says.”

Epoch Times Photo
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news briefing in Washington on Jan. 28, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a Monday statement that the budget reflects the U.S.’ National Defense Strategy.

“[And] the focus of that strategy on the pacing challenge of China,” Austin said.

“It preserves our readiness and deterrent posture against the threats we face today: the acute threat of an aggressive Russia and the constantly emerging threats posed by North Korea, Iran, and violent extremist organizations,” he said.

“And it absolutely supports our policy of U.S. global leadership of—and responsibility for—our vast network of alliances and partnerships.”

The White House said the military spending proposal “invests in deepening and modernizing our alliances and partnerships, as we are stron­ger in managing challenges—whether in the form of China’s trade abuses, Russian aggression, or the worsening climate crisis—when we work in concert with those who share our values or in­terests.”

The 2023 Pacific Deterrence Initiative “highlights some of the key investments that the DOD (U.S. Department of Defense) is making that are focused on strength­ening deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region” and includes “nearly $1.8 billion to support a free and open, connected, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific Region and the Indo-Pacific Strategy,” the White House added.

The proposed Pentagon budget outlines $130 billion in research and development initiatives to boost research into hypersonic weapons ($4.7 billion), microelectronics/5G wireless ($3.3 billion), and biotechnology ($1.3 billion), countering PRC investments in those technologies and programs.

The spending request includes $40.8 billion for the construction of eight battle force fleet ships, including a new class of intercontinental sea-launched ballistic missile (SL-ICBMs) submarines, for the U.S. Navy, the primary deterrent force lodged against growing PRC military forces in the South China Sea.

Of 24 ships the Navy wants to decommission,  nine are littoral ships, warships developed to operate in shallow waters, such as the South China Sea, that have been plagued by production and testing failures.

John Haughey
John Haughey has been a working journalist since 1978 with an extensive background in local government, state legislatures, and growth and development. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, he is a Navy veteran who fought fires at sea during three deployments aboard USS Constellation. He’s been a reporter for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York, and Florida; a staff writer for Manhattan-based business trade publications.