This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Lara Seligman on politico.com on January 19, 2021. US president-elect Joe Biden has tapped former aide and long-time Asia expert Ely Ratner to be the incoming Pentagon chief’s principal adviser on China matters, according to two people with knowledge of the move. The move may help reassure China watchers who are concerned that Biden's defence secretary nominee, retired general Lloyd Austin, does not have sufficient experience in Indo-Pacific affairs. Many national security experts consider an increasingly aggressive China to be the most pressing challenge facing the United States. “Ely is one of the best in Washington on Asia policy and the US-China relationship,” said Eric Sayers, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “This pick is a good sign for anyone who wants to see the Biden team take a more competitive approach toward Beijing. The Pentagon will be lucky to have his talents as it continues to make China its top priority and find ways to network Asian allies together on security issues.” Austin, a former head of US Central Command, is expected get questions from lawmakers about his approach to China on Tuesday as he goes before the Senate Armed Services Committee for his confirmation hearing. Calls for Biden administration to rebuild ties with China, reset policy “Ely Ratner is a strong addition to the DOD,” said Randy Schriver, a former assistant secretary of defence for Indo-Pacific affairs under President Donald Trump. “He cares deeply about our allies and partners in the region and he has the expertise, the knowledge of the bureaucracy, and the relationships to be a key player when it comes to the formulation of China policy.” Ratner is a long-time Biden aide, having served as a professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and in Biden‘s Senate office. From 2011 to 2012, Ratner worked in the office of Chinese and Mongolian affairs and the State Department before moving in 2015 to be Biden’s deputy national security adviser in the vice-president’s office. Ratner did not return a request for comment. At the Pentagon, Ratner will initially serve as a special adviser to the defence secretary on China matters, according to a transition official and a defence official, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel issues. The move potentially sets Ratner up to be nominated as the Pentagon‘s top official overseeing Indo-Pacific affairs. Ratner is the executive vice-president and director of studies at the Centre for a New American Security. US to get first openly transgender federal official, in Biden White House He has testified before Congress and is published widely on US-China relations and the US approach to Asia, including co-authoring a recent piece in Foreign Affairs with Kurt Campbell, a former State Department official who will join the National Security Council as Indo-Pacific coordinator. At CNAS, Ratner led a congressionally mandated 2020 assessment of US strategy toward China. Ratner is also an adviser with WestExec Advisers, the consulting firm co-founded by Antony Blinken, Biden's nominee to be secretary of state, and Michèle Flournoy, former president Barack Obama's Pentagon policy chief. Read Politico’s story .