In his debut on the world stage as president, Biden made it clear that Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ policy is over and that the United States will be a forceful global presence in the years ahead.
Speaking to the annual Munich Security Conference, a European-centric gathering of experts on international security issues, Biden looked back to remarks he made to the group two years ago, as a private citizen.
‘I said at that time: We will be back. And I’m a man of my word. America’s back. I speak today as President of the United States, at the very start of my administration, and I’m sending a clear message to the world: America is back,’ the president said.
President Joe Biden made a forceful denunciation of China and Russia in remarks to the Munich Security Conference on Friday
In his 10-minute remarks, Biden repudiated his predecessor’s policies, vowing a renewed commitment to the NATO alliance and, in a marked change from Trump’s tone, tore into Russia for its cyber interference in American elections.
‘The Kremlin attacks our democracies,’ Biden said.
He criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for trying to weaken Europe and the NATO alliance.
‘Putin seeks to weaken European, the European project, and our NATO allies. He wants to undermine the transatlantic unity and our resolve. Because it’s so much easier for the Kremlin to bully and threaten individual states,’ Biden said.
‘That’s why, addressing recklessness Russian recklessness and hacking into computer networks in the United States and across Europe and the world has become critical to protecting our collective security,’ he added.
And he continued the Trump administration’s concerns about China even as he couched his words in more diplomatic tones.
‘We have to push back against the Chinese government’s economic abuses and coercion and undercut the foundations of the international economic system,’ he said.
He called on Chinese companies to be held to the same corporate and governance ‘rules to deter corruption in monopolistic practices’ as American and European companies.
But he was also careful to call for cooperation and note: ‘We cannot and must not return to the reflective opposition and rigid blocks of the Cold War.’
In his remarks, President Biden raised concerns about Russian efforts to undermine democracy in the United States and elsewhere – above Russian President Vladimir Putin
Biden also raised concerns about China’s ‘economically abusive’ practices that threaten global competition – above Chinese President Xi Jinping
His greater message, however, was the return of the United States to the world stage after four years of isolationist policy.
‘Let me erase any lingering doubt,’ Biden said. ‘The United States will work closely with our European Union partners, and the capitals across the continent, from Rome to Riga, to meet the range of shared challenges we face. We continue to support the goal of a Europe whole and free and at peace. The United States is fully committed to our NATO alliance.’
He renewed America’s commitment to the NATO alliance.
‘The United States is fully committed to our NATO alliance,’ he said. ‘An attack on one is an attack on all. That is our unshakeable vow.’
He didn’t mention Trump by name but he did acknowledge the change in power.
‘I know the past few years have strained and tested our transatlantic relationship. But the United States is determined – determined – to reengage with Europe with you earn back our position of trust and leadership,’ he said.
Before his remark to the security conference, Biden joined his first G7 meeting where British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed him to the world leader club and accused him of stealing one of his slogans.
Johnson joked Biden had nicked his ‘build back better’ soundbite as he hosted an online meeting of the G7, a group of the world’s richest nations.
Forced to meet virtually due the coronavirus pandemic, the leaders suffered from a microphone malfunction – the kind that has plagued many work places struggling to meet online.
Johnson had to ask Germany’s Angela Merkel to mute herself at the start.
When he began the meeting, the chancellor suddenly interrupted him as he tried to tell the others, including new Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, that he wanted a face-to-face meeting at the G7 summit in June.
‘Can you hear us Angela,’ Johnson quipped over the German, chuckling. ‘I think you need to mute.’
Johnson, this year’s chair of the G7, pressed his counterparts in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States to release some of their COVID vaccine supply so poorer nations can receive, a move that would help end the pandemic worldwide.
Johnson urged the G7 leaders to work together on ‘building back better’ from the pandemic. ‘Build Back Better’ was Biden’s 2020 campaign slogan.
He went on to claim Biden had used, adding: ‘I think he may have nicked it from us but I certainly nicked it from somewhere else – probably some UN disaster relief program.’
Biden could be seen laughing on the video call.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the chair of this year’s G7 summit, waves a welcome to his fellow leaders of the world’s richest nations as he hosts an online meeting
Joe Biden joined his first G7 meeting as president; he’s seen in the top row, in the middle
French President Emmanuel Macron attended the meeting from the Elysee Palace in Paris; he and Boris Johnson are urging their fellow G7 leaders to donate COVID vaccine to poorer nations
British PM Boris Johnson had to ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel to mute her mic
Both Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron are pushing for vaccine access for the world’s poorer countries, especially in Africa, for instance by donating more money to the UN’s COVAX program.
‘We must respond to this glaring inequality,’ Macron said at a meeting with African leaders on Wednesday.
On Thursday, White House officials said Biden would pledge $4 billion in US aid to the COVAX program, which aims to ensure a fair supply of coronavirus vaccines around the world.
Additionally, in his remarks in Munich, Biden noted the United States officially re-entered the Paris Climate Accord on Friday after Trump removed the country from the agreement.
‘As of today, the United States is officially once again a party to the Paris agreement which we have put together on Earth Day. I will host a leader summit to help drive a more ambitious actions among the top emitters including domestic climate action here in the United States,’ he said.
Johnson is scheduled to host an in-person gathering of the leaders in Cornwall in June. Biden plans to attend should the coronavirus pandemic allow it.
Britain also will host the UN’s next climate summit, COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. Johnson has invited Biden to attend.