Notably absent, in contrast, from his remarks was the growing geopolitical threat posed to the United States by China. Biden mentioned China three times, all in the context of economic competition. Unlike the reported human rights abuses by Russia in Ukraine, the ongoing genocide of the Uyghur people of East Turkistan was entirely absent from the State of the Union, as were abuses against Tibetans, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, and the extensive abuses against pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.
Biden opened his speech by spending about ten minutes on the war in Ukraine, claiming that Putin had “met a wall of strength he never imagined” in Ukraine upon expanding his war outside of the troubled Donbas region, where Russian-backed forces have been at war with the country since 2014.
“Putin's latest attack on Ukraine was premeditated and unprovoked. He rejected repeated efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO wouldn't respond. And he thought he could divide us at home. Putin was wrong. We were ready,” Biden claimed, taking credit for “building a coalition of other freedom-loving nations from Europe and the Americas to Asia and Africa to confront Putin.”
“This is a real test. It's going to take time. So let us continue to draw inspiration from the iron will of the Ukrainian people,” Biden urged.
Biden insisted that, by attacking the entirety of the Ukrainian sovereign territory, Putin had become “isolated from the world more than ever” and took personal credit for crafting a unified response to Russia's aggression against the country. Biden's claims omitted several key actions by his administration that preceded Putin's decision to attack: lifting sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which would have greatly expanded the Russian natural gas industry's access to Europe at Ukraine's expense; claiming the United States would not protect Ukraine if Putin engaged in a “minor incursion” there; and repeatedly sidelining Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, ignoring multiple invitations to meet as Zelensky nervously warned in the press that lifting sanctions would lead to an invasion.
Biden quoted Zelensky's speech to the European Union this week in his address.
Biden did not explain in detail the relevance of the Ukraine conflict to the average America. His minimal comments on China, however, did address manufacturing, the greater job market, and future competition with the country's greatest rival.
“We will buy American to make sure everything from the deck of an aircraft carrier to the steel on highway guardrails are made in America,” Biden promised. “But to compete for the best jobs of the future, we also need to level the playing field with China and other competitors.”
“That's why it is so important to pass the Bipartisan Innovation Act sitting in Congress that will make record investments in emerging technologies and American manufacturing,” Biden asserted, claiming the bill, if passed, would entice corporations to choose to build factories in America.
“We used to invest almost two percent of our GDP in research and development. We don't now. Can't. China is,” Biden claimed.
Biden then introduced guest Pat Gelsinger, the CEO of Intel, a company that relies heavily on business with China and sponsored the 2022 Beijing Olympics, widely condemned as an attempt by the Communist Party to legitimize itself amid the Uyghur genocide. In December, Intel apologized for having issued a statement urging Chinese suppliers to avoid using Uyghur slave labor in an attempt to abide by the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Congress passed last year.
Elsewhere in the speech, Biden also claimed that the Bipartisal Infrastruction Law passed last year would “transform America and put us on a path to win the economic competition of the 21st Century that we face with the rest of the world — particularly with China.”
“As I've told [Chinese dictator] Xi Jinping, it is never a good bet to bet against the American people,” Biden claimed. “We'll create good jobs for millions of Americans, modernizing roads, airports, ports, and waterways all across America.”