Describing an "aggressive" China as the "most serious competitor" to the US, President Joe Biden has said that his administration will take on the challenges posed by Beijing directly, but will not hesitate to work with it when it is in America's interest to do so.
Realising that a rising and more assertive China as one of his biggest foreign policy challenges, Biden on Thursday stressed the importance of allies in responding to the strategic competition posed by Beijing.
"We will confront China's economic abuses, counter its aggressive, coercive action to push back on China's attack on human rights, intellectual property and global governance," Biden said in his address to State Department employees at its Foggy Bottom headquarters here.
"We will also take on directly the challenges posed by our prosperity, security, and democratic values by our most serious competitor, China," he said.
The China-US relationship is crucial to both sides, and the world. Tensions have soared in recent times, over trade, espionage and the coronavirus pandemic.
Washington and Beijing have also sparred over espionage, China's military build-up in the South China Sea and the mass detention of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Biden, a Democrat, said his administration is ready to work with China when it is in America's interest to do so.
"But we are ready to work with Beijing when it is in America's interest to do so. We will compete from a position of strength by building back better at home, working with our allies and partners, renewing our role in international institutions, and reclaiming our credibility and moral authority, much of which has been lost," he said, giving the glimpse of his administration's policies on China.
"That is why we have moved quickly to begin restoring American engagement internationally and earn back our leadership position to catalyse global action on shared challenges," Biden said.
In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman gave a muted response Biden's twin policy approach of confrontation with China on challenges it posed and cooperation to further American interests, saying both countries can achieve "big things" together and their common interests far outweigh their differences.
"As two major countries China and the US share broad common interests and special major responsibilities for upholding world peace stability and prosperity," foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing on Friday.
"It is natural that we have differences but our common interests far outweigh our differences. Our cooperation can do big things conducive to the two countries and the world, Wang said.
Meanwhile, in Washington, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that his priority is not to get access for Goldman Sachs in China.
"Our priority is to make sure that we are dealing with China's trade abuses that are harming American jobs and American workers in the United States," he said.
The Biden administration believes that once the US establishes its position of strength, it will be able to compete more effectively with its competitors across the board and especially with China in every domain, including economic, diplomatic, technological and security.
In a letter to Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, Senator Rick Scott underscored that the threat of communist China must be a top priority for Pentagon.
"As the United States faces increasingly frequent and dangerous threats from adversaries across the globe — namely communist China, Iran, Russia and North Korea — there has never been a more important time to ensure that our men and women in uniform have every resource they need to stand strong and combat threats to our freedoms and interests," he said.
"Communist China is undoubtedly our greatest enemy and must be treated as such. The Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) policy of genocide against the Uyghurs, theft of American technology and dangerous actions to build its military presence and threaten the security of the United States and its allies cannot be tolerated," Scott wrote to Austin.
Encouraged by the defence secretary's candour regarding the threat communist China poses to nations around the world, Scott urged Austin to take the strongest possible position to ensure that the Biden administration places accountability and strength at the top of its policy agenda.
"We cannot forget, when the reckless actions of communist China adversely impact our allies, especially those in the Indo-Pacific region including Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, India or Taiwan, they also threaten the safety and security of the United States," he said.
In another development, Congressman Brad Wenstrup led 45 lawmakers in writing to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Sullivan regarding the CCP's coercive population control efforts and grave human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
"There is little doubt that China poses one of the most significant challenges to the United States going forward. As part of the administration's effort to confront this challenge, we urge you to prioritise holding the Chinese government accountable for the ongoing genocide in Xinjiang and stand up for the rights to life, human dignity and religious freedom for all people," the members wrote.