Jun 4, 2024 - World

Biden warns China's economy is on the brink

oe Biden delivers remarks on former U.S. President Donald Trump’s guilty verdict in his hush-money trial before speaking on the Middle East at the White House on May 31

President Biden at the White House on May 31. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden sounded off on what he characterized as the declining might and global influence of China's economy in a new interview with Time magazine published Tuesday.

Why it matters: China is one of the main U.S. rivals on the world stage. The two countries' relationship is fraught with geopolitical and economic tensions that could impact the global economy.

Driving the news: Biden said that "everybody talks about ... how strong China is and how powerful they are," but the president offered a bleaker assessment of China's economic future.

  • "You've got a population that's considerably older than the vast majority of the youth in Europe, that is too old to work," Biden told Time.
  • "Where is it going to grow? You've got an economy that's on the brink there. The idea that their economy is booming? Give me a break," he added.

Zoom in: Biden also cast doubt on the continuing power of China's Belt and Road Initiative, a series of infrastructure projects around the world intended to expand China's global influence.

  • Biden said the Belt and Road Initiative had become a "nuisance graveyard initiative" and dismissed the idea that it had been successful in helping China "break through" globally and rival the influence of the U.S. and Russia.

Context: Although China's economic growth boomed for years, growth has slowed since the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Even as the rest of the world recovered from the global shutdown, China's economy was hampered by the country's zero-COVID policies.
  • While China's economy is still growing, last year the country contended with falling prices, loss of consumer confidence and a real estate crisis marked by falling home prices and sales.
  • China's economic downturn has even sparked worries in the U.S.

The big picture: As the U.S. prepares for the November election, some Biden administration officials are warning that China will attempt to influence the outcome.

  • Meta said last year that it had disrupted at least five China-based influence campaigns seeking exploit U.S. political divisions. The U.S. intelligence community warned in March that China had used TikTok to influence recent U.S. elections.
  • "There is evidence that meddling is going on," Biden told Time when asked about Chinese election interference efforts. He added: "Everybody, all the bad guys are rooting for Trump, man. Not a joke."
  • Biden's answer echoed a warning from Secretary of State Antony Blinken in April that China was already trying to influence the upcoming election.

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