Biden hopes to improve relations with China


HIROSHIMA (AFP) -U.S. President Joe Biden said that relations between the United States and China were likely to sour “quickly” after the United States shot down what appeared to be a Chinese spy balloon earlier this year.

Biden said relations soured in the months after he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November.

Washington’s decision in February to shoot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon that was flying over the United States sparked a diplomatic dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

A visit to Beijing by Foreign Minister Anthony Brinken, which was advertised as an opportunity to improve relations, was canceled in the wake of the incident.

At a press conference after the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan on Sunday, Mr. Biden was asked why a planned hotline between the United States and China was not operational. “As you said, we should have an open hotline. At the Bali meeting, President Xi and I agreed to do that and then have a meeting,” he said.

“And then this stupid balloon with two boxcar loads of spy equipment flew over the United States,” Biden added.

“It was shot down and everything changed in terms of our conversations with each other. I think it will be resolved soon.”

The Biden administration has also angered China by targeting trade in advanced microchips, citing the risk of military use.

The president defended those measuresa day after a group of seven nations warned China of “militarization activities” in the region.

“We have made it clear that we do not intend to trade certain commodities with China as China builds up its military power,” he said.

“We have now received commitments from all our allies not to do so and to provide this type of material.”

“But it’s not a hostile act, it’s an act of saying, ‘I’m going to do everything I can to maintain the status quo.'”