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President Joe Biden anticipates the U.S. rivalry with China will take the form of “extreme competition” rather than conflict between the two world powers.

Biden said in an excerpt of a CBS interview aired Sunday that he has not spoken with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping since he became U.S. president.

“He’s very tough. He doesn’t have — and I don’t mean it as a criticism, just the reality — he doesn’t have a democratic, small D, bone in his body,” Biden said.

“I’ve said to him all along, that we need not have a conflict. But there’s going to be extreme competition,” Biden said.

“I’m not going to do it the way (Donald) Trump did. We’re going to focus on international rules of the road.”

Xi Jinping | REUTERS
Xi Jinping | REUTERS

China is considered by Washington to be the United States’ No. 1 strategic adversary, and the primary challenge on the world stage.

Trump had chosen open confrontation and verbal attacks, without serious tangible results for the enormous U.S. trade deficit with China.

Biden has systematically dismantled many of the more controversial measures of the Trump era, while at the same time signaling that the United States will closely look out for its own interests.

Biden said that there was no particular reason why he hadn’t yet spoken with Xi.

“Well, we haven’t had occasion to talk to one another yet,” Biden said. “There’s no reason not to call him.”

The U.S. leader added that he knows Xi “pretty well” after eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president. “I’ve probably spent more time with Xi Jinping I’m told than any world leader has,” he said.

Biden has held calls with multiple world leaders since he took office on Jan. 20, including with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but so far not with Xi.

Since the Biden administration began, the highest level of communications between the world’s largest economies was a phone conversation between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on Friday. During the call, the two diplomats sparred on democracy and human rights issues.

Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the U.S., said tough talks are “not the right way of doing diplomacy,” when asked about the Blinken-Yang phone call in a CNN interview aired on Sunday.

“You don’t have effective foreign policy just by talking tough, or playing tough,” he said on “Fareed Zakaria GPS.” “I think there’s a clear need for a good sense of mutual respect.”

Biden has so far signaled a desire to continue international pressure on China over its human rights practices, while China has repeatedly said the two countries should look for areas for cooperation.

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