US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that China was in trouble because of weak economic growth and like a “ticking time bomb”.
The 80-year-old president’s latest remarks, made at a political fundraiser in Utah, have the potential to amplify bilateral strains.
“They have got some problems. That’s not good because when bad folks have problems, they do bad things,” Biden said at the event.
Biden’s remarks were reminiscent of comments he made at another fundraiser in June when he referred to President Xi Jinping as a “dictator”. China called the remarks a provocation.
Those comments came shortly after Secretary of State Antony Blinken completed a visit to China aimed at stabilizing relations that Beijing described as being at their lowest point since formal ties were established in 1979.
‘China is in trouble’
China’s consumer sector fell into deflation and factory-gate prices extended declines in July. China may be entering an era of much slower economic growth with stagnated consumer prices and wages, contrasting with inflation elsewhere in the world.
The United States, the world’s largest economy, has fought high inflation and seen a robust labour market.
“China is in trouble,” Biden said on Thursday. He said he did not want to hurt China and wanted a rational relationship with the country.
Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order that will prohibit some new US investment in China in sensitive technologies like computer chips.
China, which has the world’s second largest economy, said it was “gravely concerned” about the order and reserved the right to take measures.
However, Biden’s remarks are fair, given the economic slowdown China has endured. Trade data this week shows the country may be slipping into prolonged deflation.
Customs data revealed on Tuesday showed China’s imports dropped by 12.4% in July year-on-year, while exports were down 14.5% amid weak demand both at home and abroad.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard