While on the campaign trail in May 2019, presidential candidate Joe Biden dismissed the idea that China was a legitimate economic competitor.
"China's going to eat our lunch?" Biden asked during a stop in Iowa. "C'mon man! They’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They’re not competition for us.” He argued that China had too many internal issues to deal with to be considered a threat.
At the time Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) made what turned out to be a good prediction.
This will not age well. https://t.co/IJ8vkPJ5SV— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 1, 2019
Well, President Biden had a lengthy call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday night, and it seemed like things have indeed changed. He now admits that China is making progress in terms of transportation. As such, he gathered together a group of lawmakers to discuss how the U.S. can really start to move on infrastructure. And he recycled the phrase he used in 2019.
"Last night I was on the phone with for two straight hours with Xi Jinping," the president said. "It was a good conversation, I know him well, we spent a lot of time together over the years I was vice president, but if we don't get moving, they're going to eat our lunch. They have major, major new initiatives on rail, they already have rail that goes 325 miles per hour with ease. They are working very hard to do what I think we're gonna have to do."
President Biden on China: "Last night I was on the phone for two straight hours with Xi Jinping...if we don't get moving they're going to eat our lunch." pic.twitter.com/Slog8wdyyr— CSPAN (@cspan) February 11, 2021
Journalists spotted the difference.
Candidate Joe Biden (May 2, 2019, Iowa City): “China is going to eat our lunch? C’mon, man!"— Matt Viser (@mviser) February 11, 2021
President Joe Biden (Feb. 11, 2021, Oval Office): “If we’re don’t get moving, they’re going to eat our lunch."
President Biden today on his call with Xi Jinping last night: "If we don't get moving, they're going to eat our lunch."— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) February 11, 2021
Candidate Biden in 2019: "China is going to eat our lunch? C'mon man... They’re not bad folks, folks… They’re not competition for us."https://t.co/oF8tu4RUqA
And yet, when White House reporters asked press secretary Jen Psaki what the administration planned to do to about the threat from the CCP, she said they weren't in any rush.
In a message about his call with President Xi, Biden insists he aggressively confronted him about China's policies.
I spoke today with President Xi to offer good wishes to the Chinese people for Lunar New Year. I also shared concerns about Beijing’s economic practices, human rights abuses, and coercion of Taiwan. I told him I will work with China when it benefits the American people.— President Biden (@POTUS) February 11, 2021
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley suggests that Biden could have used those two hours on Wednesday night for more productive aims, considering the U.S. is still dealing with a pandemic that originated in Wuhan.
China’s lies have cost thousands of lives. The WHO needs to expose its deception, not cover it up. Rather than calling Xi, Biden needs to be coordinating with India, Japan, Australia & other frustrated countries on how the world can hold China accountable. #DoItNow— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) February 11, 2021