Biden: Xi bets democracy can’t catch up with dictatorship

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his first speech since taking office at a joint session of the House and Senate on April 28.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday (April 28) in his first speech since taking office in a joint session of the House and Senate that Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping has bet that democracy is too divisive to catch up with autocracy.

Biden said Wednesday that the United States is currently at a historical inflection point in its competition with China. At the same time, he warned that no country should bet against the United States.

He said America’s opponents – the world’s autocrats – are betting that democracy does not address pressing popular needs, that it takes too long to reach consensus and that the United States is too divisive.

“We have to prove them wrong.” Biden said. “Authoritarians will not win the future. America will.”

In discussions with Communist Party President Xi Jinping, I told him that we welcome competition and do not seek conflict, but I made it very clear that I would defend U.S. interests across the board,” he said.

“The United States will stand up and push back against unfair trade practices that harm American workers and industries, such as state-owned enterprise subsidies, theft of American technology and intellectual property.”

He added: “I also told President Xi that we will maintain a strong military in the Indo-Pacific region, just like we do in Europe with NATO – not to start conflicts, but to prevent them. I also told him what I’ve said to multiple leaders, that the United States will not withdraw its commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms, that no responsible American president will remain silent about flagrant violations of basic human rights, and that the president must represent the essence of our nation.” That became one of the few bipartisan applause lines of the night.

“We are competing with China and other countries to win the 21st century. We must do more than just rebuild. We have to build better than we did before.” Biden said.

Voice of America reported earlier Wednesday that hours before the speech, Biden told the media at the White House that he sees the challenge facing the United States as whether democracy can succeed in the 21st century. He said Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping is betting that democracy can’t catch up with dictatorship.

Biden argued that the issue of democracy versus autocracy is at the heart of the U.S.-China relationship. He said he has debated and discussed the issue at length with Chinese Communist Party President Xi Jinping. Biden said Xi is betting that “democracy can’t – can’t keep up with him.”

Biden has expressed this sentiment before. In his first press conference since taking office, he said of Xi that “he shares Putin’s view that autocracy is the wave of the future and that democracy cannot work in an increasingly complex world.”

Biden stressed at the time that the world now faces “a battle between democracy and dictatorship” and that “we have to prove that democracy works.”