Biden says there is ‘no need’ for ‘physical conflict’ with China despite rising tensions

Mr Biden said the Sino-American relationship would be one of ‘competition’ rather than conflict

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Tuesday 02 November 2021 22:08
Biden says 'big mistake' for China to miss Cop26

President Joe Biden said there will be no need for the US to engage in a “physical conflict” with China and he does not worry about one starting despite rising tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday prior to departing the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow, Mr Biden was asked if the potential for armed conflict between the two world powers had grown because of recent Chinese weapons tests, including one of a hypersonic missile last month.

Mr Biden replied: “Am I worried about an armed conflict or some that accidentally occurring with China? No, I’m not.”

The president noted that both China and Russia were absent from the Glasgow climate confab, and said the lack of attendance by Chinese premier Xi Jinping (as well as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Momammad bin Salman) was “a problem”.

“I think it’s been a big mistake, quite frankly, China not showing up. The rest of the world will look to China and say what value added are they providing? And they’ve lost in the ability to influence people around the world and all the people here at Cop, the same way I would argue with regard to Russia,” Mr Biden said.

He added that over the many hours he has spent in conversations with Mr Xi during his presidency and his previous service as vice president, he has stressed that the two nations can engage in competition without coming into conflict.

“This is competition. It does not have to be conflict. There is no reason there need be conflict,” Mr Biden said. “But I’ve also indicated to him... that we expect him to play by the rules of the road”.

Continuing, Mr Biden said the US would not change its attitude towards freedom of navigation in international sea lanes and airspace – areas in which China has grown increasingly aggressive in recent years – and said he has “made it clear” that there was work to do when it comes to Sino-American relations on “cybersecurity and a whole range of other issues”.

Some of the president’s domestic critics in the Republican Party have suggested that Mr Xi did not attend the G20 or Cop26 conferences as a deliberate snub to Mr Biden, even though Mr Xi has not left China this year due to concerns of contracting Covid-19 during travel.

The two leaders are tentatively scheduled to meet during a virtual summit later this year.

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