- US President Joe Biden said China’s economic problems could keep Beijing from invading Taiwan.
- Biden said Chinese President Xi Jinping has his “hands full” with China’s economic issues.
- Beijing claims self-ruled Taiwan as its territory and has been stepping up military drills around the island.
China’s probably too busy with its economic crisis to bother about invading Taiwan, US President Joe Biden said on Sunday.
China’s “difficult economic problem” currently is unlikely to cause the country to invade Taiwan, Biden said at a press conference during his state visit to Hanoi in Vietnam, according to a recording on the White House’s YouTube channel.
Beijing claims self-ruled Taiwan as its territory and has been stepping up military drills around this island in recent months, prompting fears about an invasion.
“I don’t think it’s going to cause China to invade Taiwan, matter of fact the opposite, probably doesn’t have the same capacity as it had before,” said Biden in response to a question on whether Beijing could be more aggressive toward Taiwan due to China’s economic issues.
Biden cited the country’s real-estate crisis and a record-high youth unemployment rate as economic problems Chinese President Xi Jinping is handling right now — which is why the two leaders have not met in 10 months, he said.
“He has his hands full right now,” said Biden, referring to Xi.
“One of the major economic tenets of his plan isn’t working at all right now,” Biden added, without specifying what he was referring to. “I’m not happy for that, but it’s not working.”
However, Biden did meet Chinese Premier Li Qiang — Xi’s number two — at the G20 summit in New Delhi over the weekend.
Biden’s Sunday comments came amid heightened tensions between the US and China over the last few years over a range of issues, including strategic competition in the tech space, geopolitics, and trade.
In recent weeks, China has ordered its central government officials not to use Apple’s iPhone and phones from other foreign brands at work. Beijing’s directive mirrors similar restrictions in the US, such as a New York City ban on TikTok on government-owned devices.
The US has also placed restrictions on Chinese tech companies in recent years, such as banning ZTE from buying components from US companies in 2018 and blocking Huawei from accessing parts of Google’s Android mobile operating system in 2019.
In October 2022, the US stepped up measures to cut China from chips made with American technology.
Despite the tensions, Biden said Sunday that he wasn’t isolating China.
“I don’t want to contain China, I just want to make sure that we have a relationship with China that is on the up and up, squared away, everybody knows what it’s all about,” he said.
The Chinese embassy in Washington DC and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider sent outside regular business hours.