May 1, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Biden on China: "They're not competition for us"

Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden

Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former Vice President and 2020 Democratic hopeful Joe Biden on Wednesday played down growing concerns that China is on the verge of surpassing the U.S. as a dominant global economic and national security superpower, saying: "They're not competition for us."

"China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man — They can't even figure out how to deal with the fact that they have this great division between the China Sea and the mountains in the West. They can't figure out how they’re going to deal with the corruption that exists within the system. They’re not bad folks, folks … They’re not competition for us."
— Biden said at a campaign stop in Iowa on Wednesday

Our thought bubble, per Axios' Joe Uchill: While Biden may be right that resource management could cap China's potential, that hasn't stopped the country from stealing billions of dollars in intellectual property through cyber and other means, providing stiff competition in tech fields — in part, due to stolen intellectual property — and investing threatening amounts in emerging fields like artificial intelligence and quantum computing. In telecom equipment, China has 2 of the top 5 companies in the world, with Huawei being No. 1.

Axios' National Political Reporter Jonathan Swan weighed in as well saying Biden’s is not a view shared by leaders of either party in Washington, or by national security leaders. One of the rare things Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and President Trump agree on is that China is a rising, increasingly urgent threat to the U.S.

The context: Biden has made similar comments before. At a Democratic campaign event in Florida in October 2018, Biden said the U.S. is "better positioned than any nation in the world to own the 21st century," adding that China is "a divided country in 1,000 ways ... Don't tell me China's going to own America. It's not possible."

  • Biden's campaign declined to comment on Wednesday's statement.

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