President Xi Jingping.
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said his administration was ready for "extreme competition" with China, but his approach would be different from that of his predecessor.
"I'm not going to do it like Trump. We're going to focus on international traffic rules," Biden said in a CBS interview clip that was released on Sunday.
"We don't need a conflict, but there will be extreme competition," he added.
In his interview with CBS, Biden said he has not spoken to China's Xi Jinping since he rose to the highest office in the country last month.
"I know him pretty well," Biden said, explaining that as Vice President he spent more time with Xi than any other world leader. "He's very smart and he's very tough and – I don't mean it as a criticism, it's just a reality – he doesn't have a democratic … bone in his body."
Tensions between Beijing and Washington, the world's two largest economies, increased under the Trump administration. Over the past four years, Trump has blamed China for a wide variety of grievances, including intellectual property theft, unfair trade practices, and most recently the coronavirus pandemic that killed more than 460,000 Americans.
Last week, Biden said he would work more closely with allies to secure a knockback against China.
"We will face China's economic abuse," said Biden, describing Beijing as America's "most serious competitor."
US President Donald Trump (L) and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands at a press conference after their meeting outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Artyom Ivanov | TASS | Getty Images
"But we are also ready to work with Beijing if it is in the interests of the US. We will compete from a position of strength by improving at home and working with our allies and partners," said the president in the state Department.
Although Biden has not yet spoken to Xi, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken spoke to his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi for the first time at the weekend.
In a tense appeal, Blinken Yang said the US would hold China accountable for its actions, particularly with regard to Taiwan. He also called on Beijing to condemn the recent military coup in Myanmar.
During his Senate confirmation hearing, Blinken told lawmakers that Trump "was right to take a tougher approach on China."
"I disagree very much with the way he has proceeded in a number of areas, but the rationale was the right one and I think that is actually helpful for our foreign policy," Blinken said a day before Biden's inauguration.