Biden misstates China’s GDP growth, calls its economy a ‘ticking time bomb’

U.S. President Joe Biden meets Nordic leaders in Helsinki

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks as he holds a press conference with Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto in Helsinki, Finland, July 13, 2023. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug 10 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday called China a “ticking time bomb” because of economic challenges including weak growth, but misquoted the country’s growth rate.

“They have got some problems. That’s not good because when bad folks have problems, they do bad things,” Biden said at a political fundraiser in Utah.

Biden said on Thursday he did not want to hurt China and wanted a rational relationship with the country, but had a dire prediction about the country’s future.

“China is a ticking time bomb … China is in trouble. China was growing at 8% a year to maintain growth. Now close to 2% a year,” he said.

Data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics showed the economy grew 4.5% in the first quarter and 6.3% in the second, with gross domestic product up just 0.8% in April-June from the previous quarter after a 2.2% expansion in the first quarter.

There was no immediate comment from China’s foreign ministry.

Biden’s remarks were reminiscent of comments he made at another fundraiser in June when he referred to President Xi Jinping as a “dictator.” China called those remarks a provocation.

Those comments came shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken completed a visit to China aimed at stabilizing relations that Beijing described as being at their lowest point since formal ties were established in 1979.

On Wednesday, Biden signed an executive order that will prohibit some new U.S. investment in China in sensitive technologies like computer chips. China, which has the world’s second largest economy, said it was “gravely concerned” about the order and reserved the right to take measures.

China’s consumer sector fell into deflation and factory-gate prices extended declines in July, contrasting with inflation elsewhere in the world.

The United States, the world’s largest economy, has fought high inflation and seen a robust labor market.

Reporting by Nandita Bose, writing by Jeff Mason; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Heather Timmons, Philippa Fletcher

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Jeff Mason is a White House Correspondent for Reuters. He has covered the presidencies of Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden and the presidential campaigns of Biden, Trump, Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. He served as president of the White House Correspondents’ Association in 2016-2017, leading the press corps in advocating for press freedom in the early days of the Trump administration. His and the WHCA’s work was recognized with Deutsche Welle’s “Freedom of Speech Award.” Jeff has asked pointed questions of domestic and foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. He is a winner of the WHCA’s “Excellence in Presidential News Coverage Under Deadline Pressure” award and co-winner of the Association for Business Journalists’ “Breaking News” award. Jeff began his career in Frankfurt, Germany as a business reporter before being posted to Brussels, Belgium, where he covered the European Union. Jeff appears regularly on television and radio and teaches political journalism at Georgetown University. He is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a former Fulbright scholar.

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