“China is a ticking time bomb in many cases,” Biden said at a private fundraising event in the western state of Utah.
The Democrat pointed to the country’s high unemployment and aging workforce, saying “China is in trouble.”
“When bad folks have problems, they do bad things,” he said.
Biden offended Beijing in June by describing his counterpart Xi Jinping as a “dictator,” in a comment slammed as a “provocation” by China’s foreign ministry.
Biden insisted Thursday that he was seeking “a rational relationship with China.”
“I don’t want to hurt China, but I’m watching,” he said.
The United States recently relaunched its dialogue with China, with a succession of visits to Beijing by senior American officials, including chief diplomat Antony Blinken.
The aim of Blinken’s trip was to turn the page on recent tensions surrounding a Chinese balloon described as a “spy” operation that was shot down by the United States in February.