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Biden warns China

President Joe Biden issued a strong warning against defending America against China’s threat to its sovereignty, and singled out President Xi Jinping. Biden called Beijing in front of millions of viewers across the United States and around the world on Tuesday as the details emerged. In a symbolic choreography of US-China relations, Biden’s remarks are unusually direct, raising questions about how the Chinese government will react.

Biden said in his House of Representatives speech that President Xi Jinping said he wanted “competition, not confrontation.” But he also said U.S. investments in alliances, military and advanced technology mean the U.S. is now in its strongest position in decades to compete with China and defend its interests. “Without a doubt, as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our nation.

Biden said, referring to the moment on Saturday when a U.S. jet launched a missile that blew up a balloon off the U.S. East Coast after days of flying over the U.S. mainland and Canada. Biden’s remarks were set in a theatrical setting and were partly designed to provide political cover was a remarkable moment that highlighted a significant geopolitical shift.

Moments later, in an ad-libbed supplement to his speech, Biden specifically named Mr. Xi in denouncing dictatorships and claiming democratic supremacy.

“Call me the world leader who will replace Xi Jinping. Mr. Biden last met in Indonesia last year and spoke of a Chinese counterpart he had known for years. The president almost let out a scream at the end of the sentence when he was hurt by mismanagement during COVID-19.

Biden’s speech focused primarily on domestic issues. But his speech came at a time of geopolitical turmoil as the US simultaneously faced another nuclear rival, Russia. He welcomed the efforts of the West to counter President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine, pledging to the Kyiv ambassador to Japan in the audience: “We will stand with you as long as necessary.”

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