Biden says ties with key allies “revitalised” amid “unfair” practices by China

The United States of America had “revitalised” its partnerships with allies amidst the rise of China, said President Joe Biden in his State of the Union Address (SoTU), as he accused Beijing of indulging in “unfair economic practices” and endangering peace across the Taiwan Strait.

US President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union Address, as Vice-President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Mike Johnson look on. Screenshot courtesy: X/@BarackObama

Biden, in his final State of the Union Address before a joint session of the US Congress on Thursday, said that the US wanted competition with China, but not conflict.

The Democrat leader, who is seeking re-election in November 2024 — the Republican nomination frontrunner Donald Trump is set to be his rival — said that America under his administration was “in a stronger position to win the competition for the 21st Century against China”.

As he delivered his address, with Vice-President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Mike Johnson looking on, President Biden said, “We’re standing up against China’s unfair economic practices. And standing up for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. I’ve revitalised our partnerships and alliances in the Pacific.”

The United States is part of the Quad (short for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) with India, Japan, and Australia. Washington also counts South Korea among its key allies in the East, especially as a counterweight to North Korea.

Republicans have “got it backwards”, says Biden

China considers Taiwan to be its breakaway province and insists it should be unified with the mainland, by force if necessary. Taiwan, however, sees itself as completely distinct from independent.

In order to stake its claim, China has been ramping up its military offensive against the self-ruled island of more than 23 million people, triggering global concerns, including from the United States.

Biden said that he, at times, found his Republican fellow members saying that China was on the rise and America was falling behind.

“They’ve got it backwards. America is rising,” said the president.

He added, “We have the best economy in the world. Since I’ve come to office, our GDP is up. And our trade deficit with China is down to the lowest point in over a decade.”

Referring to the “unfair” economic practices by China and its threats to Taiwan, the American president said, “I’ve made sure that the most advanced American technologies can’t be used in China’s weapons.”

Taking a swipe at Trump, he said, “Frankly, for all his tough talk on China, it never occurred to my predecessor to do that.”

Biden emphasised, “We want competition with China, but not conflict. And we’re in a stronger position to win the competition for the 21st Century against China or anyone else for that matter.”

China hits out at “unilateral sanctions” by the US

The president’s comments on China came a day after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi escalated Beijing’s verbal attacks on the United States.

On the sidelines of an annual meeting of China’s Parliament, Wang accused the US of trying to contain China through sanctions, and insisted that Washington had “wrong perceptions” about Beijing.

“The means to suppress China are constantly updated, the list of unilateral sanctions is constantly extended, and the desire to inflict punishment on China has reached an unimaginable level,” said Wang, during an interaction with local and foreign media in Beijing.

The US has imposed sanctions against China on a range of issues, from human rights abuses to its growing military relations with Russia.

Biden’s SoTU address had a strong reference to the Russia-Ukraine war. He said, “What makes our moment rare is that freedom and democracy are under attack, both at home and overseas, at the very same time. Overseas, Putin of Russia is on the march, invading Ukraine and sowing chaos throughout Europe and beyond.”

The president’s speech stressed upon the need to keep supplying weapons to help Ukraine resist Russia. “But now assistance for Ukraine is being blocked by those who want us to walk away from our leadership in the world,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with US President Joe Biden at the White House
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with US President Joe Biden at the White House in December 2023. Screenshot courtesy: X/@ZelenskyyUa

China is expected to get more public attention as the US presidential election campaign intensifies in the coming weeks.

Following the Super Tuesday primaries, the decks have been cleared for a rematch between Biden and Trump in the November 5 presidential elections.

Trump slams Biden, calls him “mentally disturbed”

Former president Donald Trump yesterday blasted Joe Biden and his State of the Union Address, saying that the latter was “angry and mentally disturbed” and suffered from a terminal case of “Trump derangement syndrome”.

Trump, 77, the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, was reacting to the final SoTU Address by Biden, 81.

The incumbent president slammed the former one on several issues, including abortion and gun control.

Biden, who is seeking another term as the president, refrained from naming Trump but referred to him indirectly as his “predecessor” as many as 13 times during his speech on Thursday.

Former US president Donald Trump
Former US president Donald Trump during the Super Tuesday campaign in Michigan. Photo courtesy: Instagram/realdonaldtrump

In an interview with Fox News yesterday, Trump said that Biden “suffers from a terminal case of Trump derangement syndrome, which is only curable through impeachment”.

Reacting to Biden’s SoTU address, Trump said, “He was angry, mentally disturbed, and misrepresenting a lot of the facts concerning almost every subject he discussed.”

Trump recently said that he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to any NATO member country that did not meet spending guidelines on defence — this was a stunning admission that Trump would not abide by the collective defence clause at the heart of the NATO alliance, if re-elected.

Biden said in his SoTU speech, “History is watching, just like history watched three years ago on January 6th. Insurrectionists stormed this very Capitol and placed a dagger at the throat of American democracy.

“Many of you were here on that darkest of days. We all saw with our own eyes these insurrectionists were not patriots. They had come to stop the peaceful transfer of power and to overturn the will of the people.

“January 6th and the lies about the 2020 election, and the plots to steal the election, posed the gravest threat to our democracy since the Civil War. But they failed. America stood strong and democracy prevailed.”