Biden calls Chinese President Xi Jinping a dictator

President Joe Biden called Chinese President Xi Jinping a “dictator” on Tuesday, sparking an angry reaction from Beijing in a sudden flare-up after talks between the two superpowers aimed to ease their geopolitical animosity.

Speaking at a campaign fundraiser in California, Biden suggested Xi was embarrassed because he was unaware of the alleged Chinese spy balloon flying over the United States earlier this year, despite its status almighty leader of China.

China quickly hit back at the remarks, calling them “extremely absurd and irresponsible”.

The president’s description of Xi came a day after a high-level visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing in an effort to calm tensions between the United States and China. Blinken told NBC News after his visit that the “spy balloon chapter should be closed” and that both parties are committed to trying to stabilize the relationship.

Biden, however, revisited the topic before a room of more than 125 attendees, including California Governor Gavin Newsom, who also spoke at the fundraiser.

“The reason Xi Jinping was very upset when I shot down this balloon with two train cars full of spy equipment is that he didn’t know it was there,” Biden said.

“It’s a great embarrassment for dictators,” he added, “when they didn’t know what happened.”

Beijing’s response was swift.

Mao Ning, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said Biden’s comments were “extremely absurd and irresponsible, seriously contradicting basic facts.” He accused the president of “seriously violating diplomatic protocol and seriously undermining China’s political dignity, which is an open political provocation.”

China, he told a daily press briefing, was “strongly dissatisfied”.

Biden said the Chinese ball was deflected off course without Xi’s knowledge, adding “when it was shot he (Xi) was very embarrassed and he denied he was even there.” He did not back down from comments later Tuesday at a second fundraiser.

Biden was referring to an alleged Chinese spy balloon that floated across the United States in February. The balloon, which China says was an unmanned civilian airship conducting weather research, was shot down by the Air Force off the coast of South Carolina after flying over sensitive US military installations. The incident became a point of intense diplomatic conflict between Beijing and Washington.

Although Blinken’s visit was considered relatively successful – Biden said at the fundraiser that his secretary of state had done “a good job” – China and the United States have not restored several channels communications lines that were cut after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, a self-governing island off the coast of China that Beijing claims as its own territory. There was no breakthrough at the meeting beyond an agreement that both sides needed to stabilize the relationship.

The two countries have had tense military contacts in recent weeks in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, which some have found particularly concerning. China said it was defending its national sovereignty in the two most recent cases. The United States called Beijing’s actions dangerous and stressed that the US military was operating in international airspace and waters.

Blinken’s visit was the first by a secretary of state since 2018. He had postponed a trip planned for February after the Chinese spy balloon debacle. Biden said last month that his plan with Xi to maintain an ongoing dialogue had been derailed by “this silly balloon.”

At Tuesday night’s first fundraiser, Biden said Xi had become more concerned with the Quad strategic security group, which is made up of the United States, Australia, Japan and India. The group has spoken openly about acting as a buffer for Chinese interests, but Biden said he assured Xi that China need not worry.

Biden also told the crowd that they shouldn’t be worried about recent friction between Beijing and Washington.

“Don’t worry about China. I mean worry about China, but don’t worry about China,” he said as the crowd laughed.

Alexander Smith, Janis Mackey Frayer And Jennifer Jet contributed.

Leave a Comment