Biden Labels China 'Xenophobic,' Escalates 2024 Campaign Discourse

Biden addresses trade and diplomacy during Pittsburgh visit

by Zain ul Abedin
Biden Labels China 'Xenophobic,' Escalates 2024 Campaign Discourse
© Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

President Joe Biden sharpened his rhetoric against China, labeling the country "xenophobic" during a pivotal campaign event in Pennsylvania, as he emphasized the United States' economic resilience in contrast to China's financial struggles.

Speaking to steelworkers in Pittsburgh, Biden did not mince words, pointing to demographic and economic challenges facing the Asian powerhouse. "China is grappling with significant issues - they have more retirees than workers, a closed-off economy with minimal imports, and a xenophobic stance towards immigration," Biden stated.

His remarks came amidst growing concerns over Chinese investments in sectors critical to the U.S. economy, potentially threatening American jobs. This tension surfaces shortly after Biden's recent conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping - their first dialogue following a face-to-face meeting last November.

Although bilateral relations have seen some stabilization, the undercurrents of contention remain, particularly around manufacturing investments that could displace American blue-collar workers. In his speech, Biden also highlighted his administration's proactive measures to strengthen the U.S.

steel industry. He announced plans for imposing new tariffs - 25% on specific Chinese steel and aluminum products - and initiating a formal investigation into China's shipbuilding practices. These steps are part of a broader strategy to protect national industries from foreign competitive pressures.

Further intensifying his domestic agenda, Biden reassured that Japan’s Nippon Steel Corp. would not succeed in acquiring Pittsburgh-based United States Steel Corp. This move underscores his commitment to preserving American industrial sovereignty.

Biden Critiques Trump, China

The U.S. President also seized this opportunity to critique his predecessor, Donald Trump, accusing him of misunderstanding the dynamic between the U.S. and China. "Trump simply doesn’t get it," Biden expressed, disputing the notion that the U.S.

is in decline relative to China. Addressing concerns about whether the new steel tariffs might strain U.S.-China relations, Biden confidently answered, "no," as he left Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, China is attempting to revive its international image and attract foreign investment after the economic scars left by stringent pandemic policies and tightened national security measures.

Despite these efforts, including extending visa-free access to various European and Asian nations, foreign direct investment in China has plummeted to its lowest in three decades. Moreover, China's import market continues to struggle, reflecting broader economic fragility due to a faltering housing sector among other issues.

Despite these challenges, Biden remains steadfast in his stance against exporting advanced technologies like computer chips to China, citing national security concerns. "When I spoke with Xi Jinping, he questioned our restrictions," Biden recounted.

"I told him, 'Because you'd use it for all the wrong reasons, so you’re not going to get those advanced computer chips.' "