Biden to approach U.S.-China relations with 'patience'

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks to reporters at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 25, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is in a serious competition with China, and President Joe Biden wants to approach relations with Beijing with “patience,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday.

China’s President Xi Jinping, speaking at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum on Monday, called on world leaders to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination and bolster the role of the G20 in global economic governance.

Psaki told a White House news briefing that Xi’s call would not change the Biden administration’s strategic approach to China.

“What we’ve seen over the last few years is that China’s growing more authoritarian at home and more assertive abroad and Beijing is now challenging our security, prosperity and values in significant ways that require a new U.S. approach,” she said.

“We want to approach this with some strategic patience,” she said, adding that the White House would be engaging with Republicans and Democrats in Congress, as well as international allies and partners, on the issue in coming weeks.

Responding to a question on whether Biden would continue to subject Chinese tech giant Huawei to stringent restrictions, Psaki said China’s industrial espionage and theft of intellectual property remained a concern.

“Our view, the President’s view, is that we need to play a better defense, which must include holding China accountable for its unfair and illegal practices and making sure the American technologies aren’t facilitating China’s military buildup,” she said.

SEMI, which represents semiconductor equipment makers and manufacturers worldwide, on Monday called on Biden to review the policy of the previous Trump administration that curbed sales of U.S. technology to China for national security reasons, saying it had unnecessarily hurt American industry.

Reporting by Alexandra Alper, David Brunnstrom and Jonathan Landay; Writing by Michael Martina; Editing by Chris Reese and Sonya Hepinstall