President of China, Xi Jinping.
SeongJoon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden warned lawmakers Thursday that China is aggressively outperforming the US in terms of infrastructure.
"They invest a lot of money, they invest billions of dollars, and they deal with a whole range of issues related to transportation, the environment and a whole host of other things," Biden told a non-partisan group of senators whom he is dealing with in the oval Office has taken.
"You have a big, big new initiative on the rails and you already have a rail that easily goes 225 mph," he said, adding that he spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping for two hours on Wednesday. "They'll, you know, if we don't move, they'll eat our lunch," Biden said after meeting members of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
"We just have to step up. And so I want to talk to these people – since they are the key committee – how we can start. I have set out what I think we should do," the president added.
The phone call with Xi and the meeting with the legislature take place while the new US administration works to fight human rights abuses and improve trade relations with the world's second largest economy.
During a speech at the State Department last week, Biden said he would work more closely with allies to secure a knockback against Beijing.
"We will face China's economic abuse," said Biden, describing Beijing as America's "most serious competitor."
Tensions between Beijing and Washington, the world's two largest economies, increased under the Trump administration, which escalated a trade war and prevented Chinese tech companies from doing business in the US.
In an interview with CBS, Biden said his government was ready for "extreme competition" with China, but his approach would be different from that of his predecessor.
"I will not do it like Trump. We will focus on the international traffic rules," said Biden on Sunday.
Following his remarks at the Pentagon on Wednesday, a reporter asked Biden if he was interested in punishing China for the nation's lack of transparency over the Covid-19 outbreak last year.
"I'm interested in knowing all the facts," Biden said, according to a pool report.
State Secretary Antony Blinken spoke to his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi for the first time at the weekend.
In a tense appeal, Blinken Yang said the US would hold China accountable for addressing a range of issues, including human rights abuses.
Blinken also called on Beijing to condemn the recent military coup in Myanmar.