By Allie Malloy, CNN
(CNN) — President Joe Biden said Tuesday he was not concerned about the possibility of an army conflict with China, adding that he had made it clear to Chinese President Xi Jinping that this was a “competition” and not a “conflict”.
“Am I worried about an armed conflict or something accidentally happening with China? No, I’m not,” Biden told CNN’s Phil Mattingly during his closing press conference. at the COP26 Summit.
Biden said that during his next — but not yet defined — virtual summit with Xi that he would go on to clarify: “It’s competition. It doesn’t have to be conflict.”
“There’s no reason there should be a conflict. But I’ve also indicated to him, so I’m not shy about saying it publicly, that we expect him to follow the rules of the road.” , Biden said, adding the United States. would not change its position on several issues, including international maritime lands.
“I don’t seek, I don’t foresee that there will be a need for physical conflict, but you know, as you’ve heard me say this before, my father had an expression, ‘The only conflict worse than that which is intended, is one that is unintentional,” Biden added.
Asked about the absence of China, Russia and Saudi Arabia at the COP26 summit in person, Biden said it was a “problem” but that the fact that the United States had had a “profound impact on how the rest of the world looks at the United States and its leadership role.”
Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, two counterparts whom Biden is desperate to personally engage as he works to prevent already strained relations from deteriorating further, did not attend any of the major summits this week.
The reason cited for Xi and Putin’s absences from the summits is the ongoing Covid pandemic. Cases are rising in Russia and Xi has not left China for 21 months as the virus spreads across the world. Visiting the summits may also have subjected Xi to his country’s quarantine requirements, which would have made it difficult to attend an upcoming party congress.
White House officials said Putin and Xi’s absence from the summits was not, in fact, a lost opportunity. Instead, they suggest the vacuum has allowed US and European leaders to set the agenda and lead discussions on topics important to them, like climate and tackling the global pandemic.
Yet on nearly every major issue to be discussed this week — climate, Covid, the energy crisis, supply chain lockdowns, Iran’s nuclear ambitions — Western nations must work with Russia and China to make progress. significant. And Biden, who has expressed a preference for in-person summits, is being deprived of a critical opportunity to exert his brand of personal diplomacy on some of the world’s trickiest puzzles.
On Tuesday, Biden said staying at home may have cost Xi some influence on the world stage.
“By showing up, we had a profound impact on how I think the rest of the world looks at the United States and its leadership role. I think that was a big mistake for China,” Biden said. .
“The rest of the world is going to look to China and say what added value it brings that it has lost in building influence for people around the world and all the people here at Cop.”
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved.