President Joe Biden said that he has told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that the US will maintain a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific ‘not to start conflict, but to prevent one,’ as Beijing made efforts to expand influence in the strategically vital region. In his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, Biden said he also told Xi that America welcomes competition but was not looking for conflict.
Biden said that he also told President Xi that ‘we welcome the competition – and that we are not looking for conflict.’ ‘But I made absolutely clear that I will defend American interests across the board,’ he added. He said America will stand up to ‘unfair’ trade practices that undercut American workers and industries, like subsidies for state-owned enterprises and the theft of American technologies and intellectual property.
Biden also said that he told Xi what he has said to many world leaders – that America won’t back away from its commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms. ‘No responsible American President can remain silent when basic human rights are violated. A President has to represent the essence of our country’, he added. The relations between the US and China are at an all-time low. The two countries are currently engaged in a bitter confrontation over various issues, including trade, Beijing’s aggressive military moves in the disputed South China Sea and human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang region.