US-China relations: Joe Biden vows to end America’s reliance on Chinese medical equipment
American Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Thursday vowed to end the United States’ reliance on China and other countries for medical equipment should he be elected.
He also accused US President Donald Trump of failing to acknowledge the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic and putting his own interests before those of the American people.
Addressing the Democratic Party convention to formally accept his nomination, Biden accused Trump of “cosying up to dictators” and suggested he had failed to stand up for “human rights and dignity”.
His speech focused largely on domestic issues, particularly the country’s reckoning over systemic racism and the deadly fallout from the global health crisis.
“On day one we’ll implement the national strategy I’ve been laying out since March,” Biden said, addressing an empty room.
That strategy would include boosting US production of “medical supplies and protective equipment”, he said.
“We’ll make them here in America so we will never again be at the mercy of China and other foreign countries in order to protect our own people.”
Biden also said his administration would issue a nationwide mask-wearing mandate, develop and deploy rapid testing, and put science before politics.
“We’ll take the muzzle off our experts so the public gets the information they need and deserve,” he said. “Honest, unvarnished truth. They can handle it.”
The former vice-president’s speech came as the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the United States stood at more than 5.5 million and the death toll at over 177,000.
Trump had failed “in his most basic duty to the nation”, Biden said. “He failed to protect us.”
Trump replied on Twitter, saying: “In 47 years, Joe did none of the things of which he now speaks. He will never change, just words!”
Biden also used his address to suggest Trump had not only failed to strengthen relationships with allies but fawned over autocrats.
“I will be a president who will stand with our allies and friends, and make it clear to our adversaries the days of cosying up to dictators [are] over,” he said.
Biden did not mention any leaders by name, but a video montage broadcast earlier at the convention included footage of Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping as a narrator spoke of “adversaries” and “dictators”.
Biden has previously criticised Trump’s silence on the Chinese government’s human rights record, particularly its treatment of ethnic minority groups and its handling of Hong Kong.
“It’s no wonder Beijing is acting with impunity,” he said last month. “Time and again, President Trump has surrendered our values and reassured China’s autocrats they have a like-minded partner in the White House.”
Trump said in an interview in June he initially held off on sanctions against the Chinese government over the treatment of Uygurs and other ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang so as not to jeopardise the trade talks.
“I will always stand for our values of human rights and dignity,” Biden said on Thursday.