U.S. President Joe Biden issued a stern warning about China on Thursday – calling it America’s “most serious competitor” and saying the U.S. must up its game or China would (quote), “eat our lunch.”
"If we don't get moving, they are going to eat our lunch."
Biden’s comments came during a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators on the need to upgrade U.S. infrastructure.
The president referenced a two-hour phone call he had with Chinese President Xi Jinping the night before – his first with Xi since taking office – and how China was ramping up its railroad and electric-vehicle technology, urging that similar infrastructure improvements were among the areas the U.S. needed to focus on in order to compete.
“They're investing a lot of money, they're investing billions of dollars and dealing with a whole range of issues that relate to transportation, the environment and a whole range of other things. We just have to step up.”
During the call, Biden also voiced “fundamental” concerns about Beijing’s (quote) “coercive and unfair” trade practices, as well as about human rights issues - including China’s crackdown in Hong Kong.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Biden also expressed concern about China’s lack of transparency over the coronavirus.
Xi told Biden confrontation between the two nations would be a (quote) “disaster” and that they should re-establish the means to avoid misjudgments, China’s foreign ministry said.
Biden told the senators he had a good conversation with Xi and knew him well from when he was vice president.
But a senior administration official told reporters ahead of the call Biden would be (quote) “practical, hard-headed, clear-eyed” in his dealings with Xi.