Biden: ‘No Need To’ Be Like America

By Curtis Houck | July 19, 2013 | 1:21 PM EDT

Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the 43rd annual Washington Conference on the Americas on May 8, 2013 in Washington, D.C. ( Starr)

( - In a speech to the Center for American Progress on foreign policy and trade in the Asian Pacific, Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday, “there's no need to adopt the exact system we have” here in the United States.

"In my humble opinion, no nation has to adopt the exact system we have. I mean, that's not what I'm suggesting at all, but it's awful hard to be innovative where you can't breathe free. It's a whole awful hard to make significant technological breakthroughs where orthodoxy is the norm," he said.

Biden made the remarks in a speech at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., days before he leaves for a trip to India and Singapore to discuss expanding trade relations and foreign policy in the region. He's due to arrive in India on Monday.

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"I believe there is no Asian exception to the universal desire for freedom. And the issues that young people are seized with all across Asia and the world - corruption, land rights, pollution, food and product safety, these are all fundamentally linked to openness and transparency, to greater rights and freedom," said Biden.

"In my humble opinion, the very things that have made us such a prosperous, innovative and resilient nation, are openness, the free exchange of ideas, free enterprise and liberty, all of which have their downsides, as we've recently seen in Boston and other places. They have downsides, but we would not trade them for all the world," he added.

As a precursor to discussing freedom in Asia, Biden first stated the prevalence of those freedoms in America.

Biden said that "no one in America is diminished or punished for challenging orthodoxy. It's the only way there can be a breakthrough. You have to challenge orthodoxy. Where competition is fair, where people have a right to express their views, practice their religion, and decide their futures. These are universal values. They're not unique to Americans."

Earlier, he discussed U.S. relations with China as not viewed "in terms of conflict or the talk of inevitable conflict" but rather "a healthy mix of competition and cooperation" – one that the administration welcomes, because “competition is stamped into our DNA."

On that subject of competing with China, Biden told the audience that when he was last in China, he told Chinese leaders "it's never, never, never been a good bet to bet against America. The resiliency of the American people and the nature of our system – America is back."

For the position of the United States in the region, Biden concluded his speech by emphasizing that the success of countries in Asia is in the best interest of the U.S.

"This is not a zero sum game. It's overwhelming in our interest that India continues to grow. It's overwhelmingly in our interest that China grows. It's overwhelmingly in our interest that the world economy grow(s) because we believe Asia's success is fundamentally linked to ours."