US President Joe Biden issued a warning to China that Washington will act to protect if Beijing threatens its sovereignty, as the schism between the two nations widened over the Chinese spy balloon row.
“I am committed to work with China where it can advance American interests and benefit the world. But make no mistake: as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did,” Biden said on Tuesday night.
A diplomatic crisis arose after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled his planned visit to Beijing in protest against the presence of Chinese balloon over the US skies, which Washington claims was snooping on sensitive military sites—a charge Beijing denies.
Last week, the US military shot down the suspected spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean, drawing a strong reaction from China which on Sunday warned of repercussions over America’s use of force against its civilian unmanned airship.
The US has accused China of violating American sovereignty and international law.
“Let’s be clear: winning the competition with China should unite all of us. We face serious challenges across the world. But in the past two years, democracies have become stronger, not weaker,” Biden said before a Joint Session of the US Congress.
Biden, whose popularity has been dwindling over recent years, mentioned China over a dozen times in his speech.
Before assuming power, Biden said, the whole narrative was about how China was increasing its power and America was falling in the world.
“Not anymore. I’ve made clear with President Xi (Jinping) that we seek competition, not conflict,” he said, drawing applause from Democrats.
“I will make no apologies that we are investing to make America strong. Investing in American innovation, in industries that will define the future, and that China’s government is intent on dominating. Investing in our alliances and working with our allies to protect our advanced technologies so they’re not used against us,” he said.