United States President Joe Biden said on March 25 that he will see to it that China does not surpass the U.S. to be the most powerful country in the world.
"China has an overall goal... to become the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world and the most powerful country in the world," he told reporters at the White House, Reuters reported.
"That's not going to happen on my watch because the United States is going to continue to grow."
China president believes in autocracy
Biden said he was convinced Chinese President Xi Jinping believed autocracy and not democracy held the key to the future.
Biden said he had spent "hours upon hours" with the Chinese leader in his previous stint as vice president under former President Barack Obama.
The Democratic president said he had made it clear to Xi that the U.S. was not looking for confrontation and that China has to adhere to international rules for fair competition, fair trade and respect for human rights.
Biden also vowed to invest heavily to ensure America prevails in the rivalry between the world's two largest economies.
Biden then took aim at Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin for embracing autocracy.
"He's one of the guys, like Putin, who thinks that autocracy is the wave of the future, (and) democracy can't function in an ever-complex world," the president said during his first news conference since taking office in January.
Holding China accountable
The U.S. will not be responding to China on its own though.
Biden said he would work with U.S. allies to hold China accountable for its actions, as well as push Beijing to stick to international rules for fair trade.
Chinese actions regarding Taiwan, Hong Kong, the South China Sea and its treatment of the Uighur minority, will be watched.
Biden said he told Xi during a two-hour conversation after taking office: "As long as you and your country continue to so blatantly violate human rights, we are going to continue in an unrelenting way to call it to the attention of the world, and make it clear, make it clear, what's happening. And he understood that."
Failing to do so would undermine America's credibility, Biden said, and that was what the former president Donald Trump did.
"The moment a president walks away from that, as the last one did, is the moment we begin to lose our legitimacy around the world. It's who we are," he said.
Spending to improve the U.S.
Biden added that he plans to unveil a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure proposal next week.
"We are going to make real investments," he said, noting that China is spending three times more than the U.S. on infrastructure.
He said he aimed to return U.S. investment in research and technology development closer to the 2 per cent of GDP invested in the 1960s.
The current rate is about 0.7 per cent.
"The future lies in who can, in fact, own the future as it relates to technology, quantum computing, a whole range of things, including in the medical fields,” he said.