President Joe Biden says he would not hesitate to defend United State interests against China after he ordered the downing of a suspected surveillance balloon but, delivering his State of the Union address, kept the door open to cooperation.
In the annual speech to assembled lawmakers, many of whom have pressed for a hard line on China, Biden called for US investment in the military, technology and alliances to take on the country widely viewed as the chief US competitor.
“I’m committed to working with China where it can advance American interests and benefit the world. But make no mistake about it — as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did.
“Winning the competition” with China should unite Americans. I will make no apologies that we are investing to make America stronger — investing in American innovation, in industries that will define the future that China intends to be dominating.” President Biden said.
He however steered clear of hawkish language as he mentioned by name his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, whom he met at length in November in Indonesia.
China was one of the few foreign policy issues mentioned by Biden in a more than one-hour speech that comes as he prepares for a likely run for a second term.
He also promised long-term support for Ukraine but made no mention of Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, North Korea or this week’s devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
Recall that a US fighter jet on Saturday shot down what the Pentagon called a Chinese surveillance balloon after it crossed into the Atlantic Ocean and China has promptly claimed that the balloon was an errant weather observation aircraft with no military purposes.