China says competition should not underline bilateral relations between Beijing and Washington.
The comments by Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning Wednesday came hours after U.S. President Joe Biden proclaimed that the United States is in "the strongest position in decades to compete with China" both economically and militarily.
Biden said during the annual State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress Tuesday that the United States is now 'investing in industries that will define the future' that Beijing is 'intent on dominating,' as well as modernizing the U.S. military 'to safeguard stability and deter aggression.'
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He told lawmakers he has made it clear to his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, that the United States seeks 'competition, not conflict' with China, and will work with Beijing 'where it can' on issues that will benefit the world.
Mao told reporters at a daily press briefing in Beijing that China does not fear competing with the United States, but is "opposed to defining the entire China-U.S. relationship" in those terms.
But Biden said if China threatens U.S. sovereignty, "we will act to protect our country, ... and we did" - a reference to the unmanned Chinese spy balloon that flew over the continental United States for several days before it was shot down last Saturday by a fighter jet over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina.
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The discovery of the balloon has further aggravated relations between the world's two economic superpowers, which have deteriorated in recent years over Washington's accusations of Beijing's unfair trade and economic practices and violations of intellectual property rights.
The U.S. has also accused China of human rights violations in the remote province of Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, and more broadly. He also pushed Xi over what the U.S. sees as unfair trade and economic practices by China.