Biden seeks to level economic playing field with China, promises to protect U.S. Steel

President Joe Biden speaks at the United Steel Workers Headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pa., as part of a three-day trip across Pennsylvania on Wednesday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI.
1 of 4 | President Joe Biden speaks at the United Steel Workers Headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pa., as part of a three-day trip across Pennsylvania on Wednesday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI. | License Photo

April 17 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he does not want conflict with China, but fair competition as he seeks to level the economic playing field with the Asian nation, while hinting his administration would prevent the acquisition of U.S. Steel by a Japanese company.

Speaking before union members at the United Steelworkers Headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pa., Biden accused China of overproducing steel that it then dumps on the global markets at low prices, to the detriment of the United States.


Biden called it "cheating," stating that between 2000 and 2010 when Chinese steel began entering the market, it cost 14,000 steel and iron workers their jobs, which the president promised would not happen under his watch.

The president said he sent a delegation to Mexico to speak with its president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, to stop China from sending steel into the United States by concealing it through its southern neighbor.


He also said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is investigating China's trade practices on steel and aluminum as well as in the shipbuilding industry, and if his allegations are confirmed, his administration will impose triple tariffs on the Chinese steel and aluminum, a measure the White House announced earlier Wednesday.

"And if the Chinese government is doing that and the unfair tactics to undermine free and fair trade competition in the shipping industry, I will take action," he said, adding the actions will protect American workers and ensure fair competition.

"I'm not looking for a fight with China. I'm looking for competition, but fair competition."

Biden administration officials told reporters earlier this week via teleconference that the president is committed to ensuring that American infrastructure and industries, from clean energy to electric vehicles, will be made by American workers.

"The president understands we must invest in American manufacturing, but we also have to protect those investments and those workers form unfair exports associated with China's industrial overcapacity," National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard said Tuesday.

The announcement comes as presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has pledged to impose tariffs on 60% of Chinese imports if re-elected.


The former president, whose administration took a strong stance with China, has seemingly doubled down on this foreign policy and has criticized Biden of being "weak" on Beijing.

Seemingly in response, Biden lambasted Trump's tariff plan, saying it would "badly hurt American consumers" and cost the average U.S. family $1,500 a year.

He also boasted the U.S. gross domestic product is up while its trade deficit with China is at its lowest level in more than a decade -- all while his administration is taking actions to protect U.S. advanced technology from ending up in Beijing and standing up for peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.

"For all this tough talk on China, it never occurred to my predecessor to do any of that," he said.

Biden also promised that U.S. Steel would remain an American company.

Nippon Steel, Japan's largest steelmaker, announced late last year that it will purchase U.S. Steel for $14.9 billion. The deal would make the U.S. company a wholly owned subsidiary of the Japanese firm, with U.S. Steel retaining its name and Pittsburgh headquarters.

Biden suggested Wednesday that his administration would prevent the merger.

"U.S. Steel has been an iconic American company for more than a century. And it should remain a totally American company," he said to cheers from the crowd. "That's going to happen. I promise you."


Biden is in Pittsburgh as part of a three-day trip through Pennsylvania that kicked off Tuesday in his hometown of Scranton and will end Thursday in Philadelphia.

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