Vice President Joe Biden blasted China on Wednesday in a speech about foreign policy, arguing the country hasn’t produced anything innovative.
“China-and it’s true – is graduating six to eight times as many scientists and engineers as we have. But I challenge you, name me one innovative project, one innovative change, one innovative product that has come out of China,” the vice president said forcefully.
His comments came in a commencement ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The vice president stressed that the country’s record on human rights has stymied its progress on other fronts, like innovation.
Biden recalled that during the 90s, there was growing concern Japan would become a major threat and economic competitor–”that Japan was the future,” he said.
Then, he said, people started saying the same thing about China. That’s when he made his remark that even though China is producing more scientists, they aren’t producing innovative products.
“And I want Japan to succeed as I do China,” he continued. “But give me a break.”
The vice president has argued in the past that China struggles with innovation.
When he visited the country in December, he urged young students at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to challenge the status quo, saying “innovation can only occur where you can breathe free.”
It’s an argument he has brought to Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well.
“Everyone who made their way to America in the first instance came because their human rights were not being totally valued,” Biden said he told the Chinese president. “It’s stamped into the DNA of America.”
He has also talked about what he sees as a lack of Chinese innovation during trips to Iowa in 2012. At Iowa State University, he told students that China is “not innovating.”
Other themes from Biden’s speech Wednesday echoed President Obama’s same-day address on foreign policy at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
As the combat mission in Afghanistan comes to a close, Biden told the graduates that they’re still entering a world of obstacles.
“As we end an era of war, your mission may be different, but you will face challenges no less formidable and complex. Your work will be every bit as vital and we badly need you,” he said.
“The poet Thoreau said, ‘A bluebird carries the whole sky on his back.’ Well you are Falcons, and you carry America on your back,” he continued. “You carry America on your back. And America will have your back forever.”