Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Thursday that he views Russia as an “opponent” and China as a “serious competitor,” after saying during a campaign stop last year that he doesn’t see China as a meaningful competitor to the U.S.
“I believe Russia is an opponent. I really do,” Biden said Thursday at a CNN town hall. “And look, Putin’s overwhelming objective is to break up NATO, to fundamentally alter the circumstance in Europe so he doesn’t have to face an entire NATO contingent.”
“I view China as a competitor. A serious competitor. That’s why I think we have to strengthen our relationships and our alliances in Asia,” the former vice president continued, noting that the U.S. trade deficit with China has widened recently.
The U.S. deficit in goods with China hit $31.6 billion in July, up 11.5 percent from its level the previous month.
Biden’s remarks come after he faced bipartisan criticism last year for saying that China does not represent a competition threat for the U.S.
“China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man,” Biden said during a campaign stop in Iowa City in May of last year, days after he announced his candidacy for president.
“They can’t figure out how they’re going to deal with the corruption that exists within the system,” Biden added at the time, referring to China. “I mean, you know, they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They’re not competition for us.”
Democrats and Republicans including Senator Bernie Sanders, Biden’s former rival for the Democratic nomination, and GOP Senator Mitt Romney criticized Biden after his remarks for downplaying the economic and national security threats posed by China.
A month later in June of last year, Biden walked back his remarks, saying that the U.S. is indeed in competition with China, which is “in some areas a real threat.”