HANOI (Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden insisted Sunday night that his moves to strengthen ties with Vietnam were not efforts to ‘contain’ China as he tries to downplay friction with Beijing.
Biden’s comments come after days of high-profile visits to the capitals of India and Vietnam.
“I don’t want to contain China,” Biden said. “I just want to make sure we have a relationship with China that is on the up-and-up, squared away — everybody knows what it’s all about.”
“We’re not looking to hurt China — sincerely,” he added. “We’re all better off if China does well.”
While the White House has previously said it does not want to hold back the world’s second-largest economy. However, Biden’s remarks and the location where he made them send the strongest message yet the administration does not want to start another Cold War.
The President met with officials in India on Friday before traveling to Vietnam on Saturday to work on the bilateral relationship between the countries. Biden denied that his trip was intended to boost America’s standing in the world over China.
“It’s not about containing China,” he repeated. “It’s about having a stable base, a stable base in the Indo-Pacific.”
“I am sincere about getting the relationship right,” he added.
Biden insisted that China needed to “play by the rules”.
“I just want to make sure we have a relationship with China that is on the up and up, squared away. Everybody knows what it’s all about,” Biden said.
China’s top security agency said a week ago that any meetings between Biden and meeting between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping would only happen if the U.S. was “sincere” about working on the relationship.
“Vietnam and the United States are critical partners at what I would argue is a very critical time. I’m not saying that to be polite,” Biden said.
Biden will meet with other senior Vietnamese officials on Monday before visiting a memorial of a former Senate colleague, the late John McCain prior to his departure.