In his first address to Congress on Wednesday night, President Biden took the Cold War rhetoric against Beijing to a new level and declared that the US is in competition with China to “win the 21st century.”
“We’re in a competition with China and other countries to win the 21st century,” he said. Biden made the comments in his pitch for the American Jobs Plan, a massive infrastructure plan that would cost $2.3 trillion.
Biden also said he told Chinese President Xi Jinping that the US intends to militarize the Indo-Pacific region like it does Europe. “I also told President Xi that we will maintain a strong military presence in the Indo — Pacific just as we do with NATO in Europe — not to start conflict — but to prevent conflict,” he said.
The US is stepping up military cooperation with Asian countries to counter Beijing in the region. Biden held the first-ever summit of leaders from the four Quad nations; the US, Japan, India, and Australia. The Quad is seen as a potential foundation for a NATO-style military alliance in Asia.
The Biden administration has continued military provocations in sensitive waters of the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. Lately, US warships have been frequently spotted shadowing a Chinese aircraft carrier strike group as it transits the region.
Biden had previously framed the US-China relationship as a battle between “autocracy” and “democracy,” something he echoed on Wednesday. “Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate and fears that have pulled us apart? America’s adversaries — the autocrats of the world — are betting it can’t.”
Hyping the threat of Beijing is serving the US government to also justify massive military spending. After President Biden requested an all-time high military budget of $753 billion for 2022, the Pentagon said its share of $715 billion was needed to confront China, which the Defense Department identified as the top “threat” facing the US military.