Just weeks after his trip to China, Vice President Joe Biden is telling Americans: Don’t be afraid of China's growing economy or military.
“Some here and in the region see China’s growth as a threat, entertaining visions of a Cold War-style rivalry or great-power confrontation. Some Chinese worry that our aim in the Asia-Pacific is to contain China’s rise,” Biden wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times. “I reject these views. We are clear-eyed about concerns like China’s growing military abilities and intentions; that is why we are engaging with the Chinese military to understand and shape their thinking.”
China cut off most of its military-to-military contacts last year when the Obama administration signed off on the sale of $6.4 billion of military equipment to Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a renegade Chinese province. The U.S. has been busily working to repair the frayed military relationship, as it warily eyes China’s rapidly growing military, worrying that Beijing is developing stealth warplanes and other sophisticated weapons as a way of one day challenging U.S. dominance in the Pacific.
"As I told China’s leaders and people, America is a Pacific power and will remain one,” Biden wrote. “…. Some may warn of America’s demise, but I’m not among them. And let me reassure you: Based on my time in China, neither are the Chinese.” Earlier this summer, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, insisted in an op-ed after his own visit to the country that the relationship is “too important to manage through blind suspicion and mistrust.”
Biden also urged Americans to keep China’s rising economic power “in perspective,” citing International Monetary fund statistics indicating that America’s gross domestic product is more than twice as large as China’s. While insisting that this competition will help America "flourish, Biden also stressed the importance of economic cooperation, hitting a key issue of this campaign cycle -- jobs -- as unemployment levels remain at 9.1 percent. “We often focus on Chinese exports to America, but last year American companies exported more than $100 billion worth of goods and services to China, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs here.”