Biden unveiled plans to review U.S. policy toward Beijing after meeting with Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin and other top military officials at the Pentagon. After a short press conference, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked Biden whether he had any interest in punishing China for failing to disclose critical information related to the pandemic’s severity.
“I’m interested in getting all the facts,” Biden said in response to the question.
Biden has pledged to take a hard stance toward China following years of tense relations between Washington and Beijing. Former President Donald Trump repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus” during his term in office and accused the country of withholding evidence regarding the outbreak.
Biden planned to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time Wednesday.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organization team investigating COVID-19’s origins noted its finding suggested the virus passed from an animal to humans. The WHO downplayed theories that the virus may have first made contact with humans through a lab accident.
Biden noted the Department of Defense has formed a wide-ranging task force to assess U.S. strategy toward China. A group of 15 civilian and military officials at the Pentagon are expected to provide recommendations to Austin and the Biden administration within the next few months.
“It will require a whole government effort, bipartisan cooperation in Congress and strong alliances and partnerships,” Biden said at the press conference. “That’s how we’ll meet the China challenge and ensure the American people win the competition of the future.”