Western democracies are in a race to compete with autocratic governments, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Sunday (June 13).
“We’re in a contest, not with China per se, … with autocrats, autocratic governments around the world, as to whether or not democracies can compete with them in a rapidly changing 21st century,” Biden told a news conference at the conclusion of a Group of Seven leaders’ summit in Britain.
He also said that “autocrat” Vladimir Putin was right to say that relations were at their lowest point in years though he suggested that Russia might be weaker than it seemed and that Moscow had overreached in the Middle East.
After attending a NATO summit on Monday, Biden will meet Putin on June 16 in Geneva for a meeting that promises to be a combative encounter after disputes over spying, hacking, election meddling, Ukraine, Belarus and human rights.
On China, Biden said Beijing had to provide access to investigators trying to determine whether the outbreak of coronavirus occurred in nature or was the result of “an experiment gone awry in a lab.”
“We have to have access,” he said, adding that a lack of transparency might produce another pandemic.
On the G7’s pledge to fight climate change – which includes ending new government support for coal power by the end of this year – Biden said, “It is the existential problem facing humanity and is being treated that way.”
(Production: Vanessa Johnston)