Addressing a joint session of Congress on April 28, President Joe Biden outlined his approach to foreign policy. As expected, China looms large in his thinking.
The president portrayed his overall foreign policy agenda as one that “benefits the middle class.” Biden explained: “That means making sure every nation plays by the same rules in the global economy, including China.”
The president cited his own conversations with President Xi Jinping, with whom he has “spent a lot of time” during his travels abroad. “We welcome the competition,” Biden says he told Xi. “We’re not looking for conflict.” However, Biden was quick to add that he made it “absolutely clear that we will defend America’s interests across the board,” standing up “to unfair trade practices that undercut American workers and American industries, like subsidies to state-owned operations and enterprises and the theft of American technology and intellectual property.” In addition, the president explained, the U.S. will “maintain a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific, just as we do with NATO in Europe—not to start a conflict, but to prevent one.”
In broad strokes, President Biden’s summary of the Chinese challenge is not all that different from his predecessor’s. President Trump often blasted the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) trade practices, intellectual property theft, and other malign actions. The CCP’s defensive rhetoric remains largely the same as well.