Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden blasted President Donald Trump in a speech Wednesday for being too soft on the Chinese, a departure from his previous dismissal of China as a threat.
The former vice president was giving a campaign speech in New Hampshire when he accused Trump of abdicating U.S. leadership and embracing Chinese authoritarianism.
Recent Stories in National Security
"He is commander in chief of the most powerful military in the history of the world," Biden said. "He's supposed to be the leader of the free world. Yet with the free world under threat of advancing authoritarianism, Donald Trump has completely abdicated America's global leadership and embraced those autocrats."
Biden continued to rebuke Trump for not speaking out against China's crackdown on Hong Kong protesters and its imprisonment of religious minorities.
"At a time when China is engaged in human rights abuses that are staggering, cause for enormous concern, more than 100 [sic] Uighur Muslims are imprisoned in so-called reeducation camps in the west. In Hong Kong, protesters are increasingly being met with violent oppression as they demand the democratic rights they were promised, they were guaranteed, by us and the rest of the world," Biden said. "Does he speak out for human rights or stand for the people in Hong Kong, or the Uighurs in reeducation camps? No. He promises to stay silent."
Biden's tough talk on China differs from his past statements, in which he downplayed the threat China poses to the United States.
"China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man," Biden reportedly said at a campaign event in May. "They're not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They're not competition for us."
At another campaign event in June, Biden dismissed China's growing economic power by rhetorically asking the audience, "What are we worried about?" In addition, his campaign also accused Trump of hurting American families with his actions toward China.