Biden vows to prove democracy works

US President Joe Biden says US-China relations are a "battle" between democracy and autocracy and his country has to prove that democracy works.

Biden was speaking on Thursday at his first official news conference since assuming the presidency.

On China, he said the US is not looking for confrontation but that there will be "steep, steep competition." He urged Beijing to play by international rules: fair competition, fair practices, fair trade.

Biden called Chinese leader Xi Jinping a "smart guy." He said Xi thinks that autocracy is the wave of the future and democracy can't function in an ever-complex world.

Biden said, "This is a battle between the utility of democracies in the 21st century and autocracies."

He said there are three things the US needs to do to deal with China effectively: to invest in American workers and American science, to reestablish alliances of democracies and to pursue the notion of freedom and human rights.

Biden said China's overall goal is to become "the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world, the most powerful country in the world." He added that's "not going to happen on my watch."

Some US media reports had criticized Biden for not holding an official news conference for more than two months after his inauguration.