Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told civilian leaders of the U.S. military on Wednesday to focus on “China, China, China,” even as America fights militants in Syria and Afghanistan, a U.S. defense official said. The comments came during Shanahan’s first meeting with secretaries of the U.S. military branches since taking over for Jim Mattis, who left office on Monday after resigning as defense secretary over policy differences with President Donald Trump. The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not elaborate on Shanahan’s views on China or what other guidance he gave during the meeting. Other officials have described Shanahan as an advocate of the Pentagon’s toughening stance toward Beijing. The 2018 National Defense Strategy here. branded China as a strategic competitor. The Pentagon has said he played a critical role in developing the strategy, which singled out China and Russia as top threats, saying they wanted to “shape a world consistent with…

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