President Joe Biden doesn’t want to be in conflict with China.
But, during a speech he gave to world leaders at a meeting of the United Nations this week, he said that the United States would “push back on aggression and intimidation.”
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly meeting that was held this week in New York, Biden said:
“When it comes to China, I want to be clear and consistent: We seek to responsibly manage the competition between our countries so it does not tip into conflict. I have said we are for de-risking, not decoupling with China. We will push back on aggression and intimidation and defend the rules of the road.”
As he has for basically the entire time he’s been in the White House, Biden has tried to walk the tightrope of standing up to China while not angering them at the same time.
One thing that he specifically referred to in his remarks to world leaders at the conference was America’s commitment to enforcing the freedom of navigation and also creating an economic playing field that’s even for all.
In recent months, China has shown significant aggression by stationing what amounts to warships in the South China Sea and claiming that some countries aren’t sovereign but rather a rightful part of China.
In addition, China has worked to stamp out competition in many business sectors, sometimes even stealing intellectual property so companies in their country can produce products that were designed and created in America.
But, while he has needed to take hard stances against that with China, he’s also worked to try to improve relations between the two countries. He’s sent many of his top White House officials on outreach missions to China to try to ease over tensions and build a good rapport between the countries.
Just recently, Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser for the White House, met with the foreign minister of China. Other outreach efforts included Secretary of State Antony Blinken meeting with the vice president of China in New York, and trips to China by both Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to meet with business and government officials.
Biden and Xi Jinping, the president of China, haven’t met face-to-face in more than a year.
As Biden pointed out during his speech this week:
“We also stand ready to work with China on issues where progress hinges on our common efforts. Nowhere is that more critical than … the accelerating climate crisis.”
Tensions escalated considerably earlier in the year, when the American military shot down a surveillance balloon that China sent over the U.S. It floated across almost the entire continental U.S. before it was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean.
Biden also said that Xi was a dictator, but the president attempted to downplay the comment, saying it didn’t have any real effect on America’s ability to build positive relations with China.