In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Biden took aim at China and said winning the “competition” with Beijing should “unite all of us.”
“Before I came to office, the story was about how the People’s Republic of China was increasing its power and America was falling in the world. Not anymore,” the president said.
Biden insisted that he made clear to Chinese President Xi Jinping that he seeks “competition, not conflict.” But the president said he makes “no apologies” for the fact that the US was investing in “industries that will define the future, and that China’s government is intent on dominating.”
Part of President Biden’s strategy to compete with China is through harsh sanctions that intend to cripple China’s semiconductor industry. As part of this effort, his administration is pressuring Japan and the Netherlands to also limit chip exports to China.
In the speech, Biden said to compete with China, the US was “investing in our alliances and working with our allies to protect our advanced technologies so they’re not used against us.” He said the US is modernizing its “military to safeguard stability and deter aggression.”
The address came a few days after the US shot down a Chinese balloon over the Atlantic Ocean after it passed through the United States. Beijing insists it was a weather balloon, while Washington says it was a spy balloon. Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled his trip to China over the incident.
“Make no mistake: as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did,” Biden said of the balloon incident. “And let’s be clear: winning the competition with [China] should unite all of us.”
The president made little mention of the war in Ukraine besides platitudes about “standing up” for vague principles. “Putin’s invasion has been a test for the ages. A test for America. A test for the world. Would we stand for the most basic of principles?” he said.
Biden recognized that the Ukrainian ambassador, Oksana Markarova, was in attendance but didn’t say her name. “Ambassador, America is united in our support for your country. We will stand with you as long as it takes,” he said.
Overall, Biden’s speech focused very little on foreign policy. He closed the speech by saying, “May God protect our troops,” but did not mention any of the wars they are fighting in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen.