New Zealand PM disagrees with Biden, says Xi Jinping is not a ‘dictator’

SYDNEY (Reuters) – New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, ahead of his official trip to China later this month, said on Thursday he disagreed with U.S. President Joe Biden’s remark that Chinese leader Xi Jinping was a dictator.

“No, and what form of government China has is up to the Chinese people,” Hipkins told reporters.

Asked by a reporter if the Chinese people have a say in the form of government, Hipkins replied, “If they wanted to change their system of government, then that would be their business.

Hipkins is due to visit China June 25-30, leading a trade delegation that includes some of New Zealand’s biggest companies. He will meet with Xi Jinping, Premier Li Qiang and National People’s Congress Standing Committee Chairman Zhao Leji.

China hit back on Wednesday after Biden called President Xi Jinping a “dictator”, saying the remarks were nonsense and a provocation, an unexpected flare-up following attempts by both sides to reduce friction.

(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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