Biden foresees 'extreme competition' with China, not 'conflict'

China is considered in Washington as the United States' number one strategic adversary.
China is considered in Washington as the United States' number one strategic adversary.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP, BLOOMBERG) - President Joe Biden anticipates the US rivalry with China will take the form of "extreme competition" rather than conflict between the two world powers.

Mr Biden said in an excerpt of a CBS interview aired on Sunday (Feb 7) that he has not spoken with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping since he became US president.

"He's very tough. He doesn't have - and I don't mean it as a criticism, just the reality - he doesn't have a democratic, small D, bone in his body," Mr Biden said.

"I've said to him all along, that we need not have a conflict. But there's going to be extreme competition," Mr Biden said.

"I'm not going to do it the way (Donald) Trump did. We're going to focus on international rules of the road."

Mr Biden said there was no particular reason why he hadn’t yet spoken with Mr Xi, and promised a different kind of relationship with Beijing from his predecessor.  

“Well, we haven’t had occasion to talk to one another yet,” Mr Biden said.  “There’s no reason not to call him.”

Mr Biden added that he knows Mr Xi “pretty well” after eight years as Mr Barack Obama’s vice-president. “I’ve probably spent more time with Xi Jinping I’m told than any world leader has,” he said.

Mr Biden said his approach to China will be different from that of former President Donald Trump and that Mr Xi knows that because he’s been “sending signals as well.”

Since the Biden administration began, the highest level of communications between the world’s largest economies was a phone conversation between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on Friday.

During the call, the two diplomats sparred on democracy and human rights issues.  

Mr Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the US, said tough talks are “not the right way of doing diplomacy,” when asked about the Blinken-Yang phone call in a CNN interview aired on Sunday.  

“You don’t have effective foreign policy just by talking tough, or playing tough,” he said on “Fareed Zakaria GPS.” “I think there’s a clear need for a good sense of mutual respect.”

China is considered in Washington as the United States' number one strategic adversary, and the primary challenge on the world stage.

Trump had chosen open confrontation and verbal attacks, without serious tangible results for the enormous US trade deficit with China.

Mr Biden has systematically dismantled many of the more controversial measures of the Trump era, while at the same time signalling that the United States will closely look out for its own interests.