President Biden on Sunday said he’s not looking to contain China’s economy, but that he wants Beijing to succeed by following international rules and ensure the two have a relationship “on the up and up.”
Biden spoke at a press conference in Vietnam, the second stop on a trip to Asia in which much of the focus was on how the U.S. and its allies can build up the world economy without other nations relying on China.
Questions about China dominated the press conference, where Biden was asked about relations with Beijing and his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who did not attend this week’s Group of 20 (G-20) Summit in India.
“Really what this trip is about, it’s less about containing China. I don’t want to contain China. I just want to make sure that we have a relationship with China that is on the up and up, squared away, everybody knows what it’s all about,” Biden told reporters in Hanoi.
Biden argued China is facing significant economic challenges because of a lack of international growth and domestic policies. The president earlier this year referred to China’s economy as a “ticking time bomb.”
By contrast, Biden argued Sunday that the U.S. has the strongest economy in the world, giving his administration an ability to act from a position of strength.
“We’re not looking to hurt China. Sincerely. We’re all better off if China does well, if China does well by the international rules,” Biden said.
Biden arrived in Vietnam on Sunday fresh off of two days of meetings at the G-20 in India.
One of the focuses while he was there was on building up support for the World Bank. White House officials have said providing financing for projects in developing nations through the World Bank would create an alternative so that those countries are less reliant on borrowing from China.
Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also co-hosted a meeting on the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, a project designed to accelerate investments and narrow the infrastructure gap in low- and middle-income countries.
Xi did not attend the summit in New Delhi. While Biden officials like Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo have traveled to China in recent weeks to meet with leaders there, Biden has not met with Xi face-to-face since they spoke last November at a gathering in Bali, Indonesia.
“I hope I get to see Mr. Xi sooner rather than later,” Biden said Sunday.
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