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'I don't want to contain China': Biden

'I don't want to contain China': Biden

US President Joe Biden attends Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment event on the day of the G20 summit in New Delhi, India, on Sep 9, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/Pool)

HANOI: US President Joe Biden insisted Sunday (Sep 10) he does not want to "contain" China, as the two powers face deepening divisions on trade, security and rights.

Biden said he had met Chinese Premier Li Qiang at the G20 summit in New Delhi - a meeting the White House had not announced - and discussed "stability".

"My team, my staff still meets with President Xi's people and his cabinet," Biden told reporters. "I met with his No 2 person in India today."

He added: "We talked about stability," and the Southern Hemisphere. "It wasn't confrontational at all."

The president revealed the encounter in Hanoi, where earlier in the day he agreed a deal to deepen ties with Vietnam as Washington looks to bolster its network of allies around Asia and the Pacific in the face of Beijing's rising influence.

Washington and Beijing are at loggerheads on a range of global issues, and Biden accused China of seeking to bend the international order to its will.

"One of the things that is going on now is China is beginning to change some of the rules of the game, in terms of trade and other issues," Biden told a news conference.

Washington has invested heavily in building alliances as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy, including the Quad security dialogue with India, Australia and Japan, and the AUKUS pact with Britain and Australia.

But he insisted the United States is not seeking to box China in, but rather to establish clear ground rules for relations.

"I don't want to contain China. I just want to make sure we have a relationship with China that is on the up and up, squared away, everybody knows what it's all about," he said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping skipped the G20 as Beijing and Delhi tussle over territorial and other issues.

Speaking at a press conference in Vietnam, Biden touted the US economy as the "strongest" globally. He told reporters that China's growth was slowing due to a weak global economy as well as Chinese policies but did not specify which policies.

Biden called China's economic situation a "crisis", citing issues in the real estate sector and high youth unemployment.

"One of the major economic tenets of his plan isn't working at all right now," Biden said of Xi, without elaborating. "I'm not happy for that, but it's not working."

Biden added: "He has his hands full right now."

The Democratic president is headed into a 2024 re-election campaign where his own handling of the economy and inflation has become a central concern for voters.

The US economy grew at a 2.1 per cent annualised rate last quarter. Central bankers have sharply raised interest rates to bring inflation back down to target levels.

August trade data showed China's exports and imports both narrowing their declines, joining other indicators showing a possible stabilisation in the economic downturn, as policymakers seek to spur demand and fend off deflation.

Li has said China should achieve its 2023 growth target of around 5 per cent, but some analysts think a worsening property slump, weak consumer spending and tumbling credit growth could mean lower growth.


Biden has tried to keep communications open with China to lower the temperature in international frictions including over Taiwan.

"I don't think this is going to cause China to invade Taiwan," Biden said of the country's economic troubles. "As a matter of fact, the opposite, probably doesn't have the same capacity that it had before."

He described the United States as a Pacific power with no intention of withdrawing from the region.

Biden also said recent moves by Chinese officials to curb the use of US-designed Apple iPhones by state employees amounted to trying to "change some of the rules of the game" on trade.

"I am sincere about getting the relationship right," he said.

Source: Agencies/ec


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