Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden struggled to explain his stance on China during a CNN interview that aired on Thursday, Sept. 10. 

CNN anchor Jake Tapper asked Biden whether he was “naive” on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) when he supported admitting China into the World Trade Organization (WTO) and extending the most favored nation status to China that allowed the CCP to take advantage of the United States, reported the Daily Wire.

“No, here’s the thing. In the context of that, we want China to grow. We don’t want a war with China,” Biden responded. “I said to Xi Jinping when I was … He asked—he said, ‘Why do you keep saying you’re a pacific power?’ I said because we are. We are a pacific power and if we weren’t, you would not [have] been able to have any stability at all.”

“It’s in our interest that China be stable. It’s not in our interest for China to take advantage of us,” Biden added. “So, what has Trump done? He’s poked his finger in the eye of all our friends and allies and he’s embraced every autocrat in the world and it’s now, we make up, we, we, we make up 15 percent of the world’s economy, 25 percent of the world’s economy, and we’ve lost all our friends.”

Biden has downplayed the CCP threat in the past, saying that concerns that CCP could eventually surpass the United States as a world superpower and economic force are overstated.

“China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man,” the former vice president said during his campaign rally in Iowa last summer, “I mean, you know, they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They’re not competition for us.”

Biden’s 2019 comments immediately drew the ire of top lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, even from former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“Since the China trade deal I voted against, America has lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs,” Sander tweeted. “It’s wrong to pretend that China isn’t one of our major economic competitors.”

In July, Biden announced his Build Back Better economic plan featuring a “Buy American” component.

During his Michigan visit on Wednesday, Biden slammed the outsourcing practice and called for investment into U.S. communities.

However, Biden didn’t mention his son Hunter’s involvement in a transaction that helped the CCP obtain the Michigan-based auto parts maker Henniges Automotive in 2015.

Following the deal, executives at Henniges announced manufacturing expansions in China, Mexico, Europe, and South America, touting more jobs created, but none included American workers.