Republicans Criticize Biden Over China Comments in State of the Union Address

By Frank Fang
Frank Fang
Frank Fang
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
February 8, 2023Updated: February 8, 2023

President Joe Biden’s comments on China during his State of the Union Address on Tuesday have drawn mixed reactions from Congress, with criticism from Republicans and praise from Democrats.

Biden mentioned China briefly during his hour-long speech. He began by asserting the United States is “in the strongest position in decades to compete with China or anyone else in the world,” given U.S. investment in industries and alliances, working with allies, and U.S. military modernization.

“I am committed to work with China where we can advance American interests and benefit the world,” Biden added.

As an example of protecting U.S. sovereignty, he referenced his order on Feb. 4 to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon that flew over the United States for days.

“But make no mistake about it: as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did,” Biden said.

Epoch Times Photo
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, as Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) applaud, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 7, 2023. (Jacquelyn Martin/Pool via Reuters)

However, some GOP lawmakers questioned why Biden didn’t spend more time on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during his speech.

“Biden’s inadequate attention on the threat from the CCP and other rogue adversaries during the SOTU [State of the Union] is concerning,” Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) posted on Twitter on Feb. 7.

He continued, “His continuous blatant dismissal of the CCP’s increased aggression reveals just how seriously this administration is prioritizing our defense calculus.”

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) expressed a similar sentiment, writing on Twitter that Biden “should have more forcefully called out China as a threat to global security.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) questioned Biden over his comment characterizing climate change as an “existential threat.”

“Communist China, not climate change, is a threat to our existence,” Blackburn wrote on Twitter.

Some Democrats have sided with Biden over his take on China.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) issued a statement expressing appreciation for the “president’s recognition of the serious threats faced by the United States and our allies.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s aggressive behavior, Putin’s unrelenting brutality, and the rise of anti-democratic forces in western nations all underscore the need for strong U.S. global leadership,” Spanberger wrote.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) posted a checklist on Twitter of what Biden has done well, including “standing up to Russia and China.”

Chinese Spy Balloon

Several other Republican lawmakers have pointed their criticism at Biden’s claim of protecting the U.S. sovereignty when taking down the balloon.

“Biden says that he would act to protect our sovereignty against China, but he utterly failed to do exactly that when a Chinese spy balloon hovered undeterred across a huge chunk of the interior U.S. and over critical military installations,” Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) wrote on Twitter.

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) also questioned Biden’s claim, asking on Twitter, “why was Biden caught flatfooted allowing the CCP to essentially complete its mission of collecting data across our nation?”

Epoch Times Photo
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) speaks at a news conference on the infrastructure bill with fellow members of the House Freedom Caucus, outside the Capitol Building in Washington on Aug. 23, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

According to the Pentagon, the Chinese spy balloon entered the U.S. air defense zone north of the Aleutian Islands on Jan. 28 and flew over Alaska and Canada, before reentering U.S. airspace over Idaho on Jan. 31.

The balloon then flew over Montana and several Midwest states, before being shot down by a U.S. fighter jet near the South Carolina coast on Feb. 4.

Before being shot down, the balloon flew over Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, hovered near Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, and careened around Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.

The U.S. military is now trying to recover debris from the balloon.

“While I commend the Air Force for eventually shooting down the balloon, it should have never been allowed to enter our airspace in the first place,” Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) said in a statement in response to Biden’s speech. “The Biden administration must provide answers as to how this was allowed to happen and then immediately lay out steps to ensure it never happens again.”

Latta added, “For the sake of our national security, President Biden must reverse his weak stance on countering Communist China’s aggression and provocations.”

“We cannot stand idly by while the Chinese Communist Party make inroads to destabilize the United States by undercutting our workforce, buying up our farmland, and surveilling us through online platforms and in our own skies.”