WASHINGTON: President Joe biden Thursday, pledged to spend more than China on innovation and infrastructure to prevent it from overtaking the United States to become the most powerful country in the world.
But in his first press conference since taking office, Biden declined to say whether he would maintain tariffs on the majority of Chinese imports or ban products made from forced labor.
“I see fierce competition with China,” Biden told the White House. “Their overall goal is to become the first country in the world, the richest country in the world and the most powerful country in the world. This will not happen under my watch, because the United States will continue to grow and develop.
Biden is just starting to build ties with China, the world’s second-largest economy, after former president Donald trump imposed tariffs and sanctions and blamed Beijing for the spread of the coronavirus.
Biden’s comments came days after the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and their Chinese counterparts exchanged critiques on human rights and national security issues during a two-day face-to-face meeting in Alaska.
Blinken said the United States has expressed concerns about issues such as China’s crackdown. Xinjiang, Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as its cyber attacks. Yang Jiechi, a member of the Communist Party Politburo, denounced what he called American hypocrisy and called the United States the “champion” of cyber attacks.
China on Friday sanctioned nine British people, including members of parliament, and four entities in retaliation for British moves to Xinjiang. Individuals and their relatives are not allowed to enter the country or trade with Chinese citizens and institutions, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. China had previously retaliated against European Union sanctions.
On Thursday, Biden declined to answer whether he was more likely now than before to take office to maintain tariffs on Chinese imports, or whether he was considering banning products made with it. forced labor in the Xinjiang region of China.
“Look, these are each specifically legitimate questions, but they only touch a little bit of what the relationship with China really is,” he said.
Biden said the United States values human rights and he will continue to work with his allies to expose China’s violations in its treatment of Uyghurs and actions in Hong Kong.
“The moment a president walks away from that, like the last one did, is the moment when we start to lose our legitimacy in the world,” he added.
The US president has said he intends to invite “an alliance of democracies” to the White House “to discuss the future” and make sure everyone is on the same page. regarding China and other matters.
The Biden administration is still developing its overall strategy for China, including how it will treat Chinese tech companies and a trade deal brokered by the Trump administration.
The new administration has said it will compartmentalize its engagement with China – approaching the relationship from a competitive perspective if necessary and working with Beijing on issues such as climate change and North Korea. The United States is also emphasizing working with allies rather than acting alone.
So far, Biden’s team maintains the same hard line Trump has taken on Beijing’s economic and human rights practices.
The Commerce Department this month issued subpoenas for several Chinese communications companies and is passing a Trump administration rule to block transactions involving Chinese goods and services in China’s technology supply chain. information and communications.
The Biden administration, along with European partners, this week announced sanctions against Chinese officials for alleged human rights violations against the Uyghur Muslim minority. Beijing has denied allegations of such abuse and continues to lash out at the international community for spreading what it sees as lies.
The president also signed executive orders aimed at boosting US manufacturing and strengthening critical US supply chains, including for semiconductors and rare earths – on which the United States is heavily dependent on other countries, including opponents like China.