The administration of US President Joe Biden will approach Beijing with "patience" as it reviews its policy on China in consultation with allies, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday.
"China is 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 US approach," she said at a press conference, adding that the Biden administration intends to use "some strategic patience."
Her remarks came after Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaking at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum on Monday, called for global cooperation in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and other challenges, while warning that confrontation, including trade wars, will only end up hurting the interests of all countries.
Psaki said Xi's message would not affect the current US stance on China, with which Washington views is in a "serious competition."
"Strategic competition with China is a defining feature of the 21st century. China is engaged in conduct that hurts American workers, blunts our technological edge, and threatens our alliances and our influence in international organizations," the White House press secretary said.
She also said the Biden administration is eager to hold discussions with US allies as well as Republicans and Democrats in Congress to assess how to move forward in relations with the world's second-largest economy.
Biden's handling of US-China ties will be closely watched after the previous administration under Donald Trump took an increasingly confrontational stance on numerous fronts including trade practices, technology, Hong Kong, Taiwan, human rights issues and control of the South China Sea.
During the election campaign, Biden said that he too would be tough on Beijing, though he has opposed Trump's use of unilateral tariffs which brought on a tit-for-tat trade war. He also expressed his desire to work with US allies and partners to counter China's abusive trade behaviors and human rights violations.
Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken suggested during a Senate committee hearing last week that US moves to pressure Beijing will continue into the Biden administration, acknowledging the tough stance taken by the Trump administration was "right."
Psaki's reference Monday to the approach of "patience" in responding to questions regarding Biden's China policy invoked Washington's "strategic patience" policy on North Korea adopted under the administration of former US President Barack Obama.
Obama's strategic patience policy was designed to put more pressure on Pyongyang while waiting for it to return to denuclearization talks. But critics have termed it a failure as North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities have continuously advanced.
Psaki was a former State Department spokeswoman during the Obama administration. Biden served as Obama's vice president for eight years through January 2017.