By Editor-June 22nd, 2023.
US President Joe Biden openly called Chinese President Xi Jinping a dictator in a speech at a Democratic Party fundraiser in California.
Calling a fellow world leader a ‘dictator’ is generally considered to be a gross insult in diplomatic circles.
His remarks came only days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Mr Xi for talks in Beijing, which were supposedly aimed at easing tensions between the two superpowers.
Mr Biden also said Mr Xi was embarrassed after an alleged Chinese spy balloon was shot down by the US. The Chinese have said that the alleged spy balloon was actually a stray meterorological balloon.
China said it “firmly opposes” Mr Biden’s comments.
“The reason why Xi Jinping got very upset, in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two box cars full of spy equipment in it, was he didn’t know it was there,” Mr Biden said at the event on Tuesday.
“That’s a great embarrassment for dictators. When they didn’t know what happened,” he added.
Washington later said it was part of a sprawling Chinese intelligence collection programme. Mr Blinken, who was meant to visit Beijing at the time, postponed the trip in the wake of the incident.
China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning called Mr Biden’s remarks “extremely absurd and irresponsible”. Speaking at a regularly scheduled press conference on Wednesday, she said that the comments were “an open political provocation” that violated diplomatic etiquette.
Mr Blinken’s visit over the weekend, the first by a US secretary of state in almost five years, restarted high-level communications between the two countries.
Mr Xi said some progress had been made in Beijing, while Mr Blinken indicated both sides were open to more talks. Major differences, however, remain between the two countries.
Relations have plummeted in the wake of a Trump-era trade war, Beijing’s assertive claims over Taiwan and the shooting down of the alleged spy balloon.
Biden met Xi in person in Bali in November 2022.
Following the three-hour long talks, Biden told reporters he believed “there need not be a new Cold War”, while their offices said the two leaders stressed the importance of cooperation between Beijing and Washington to tackle global issues.
“Biden underscored that the United States and China must work together to address transnational challenges — such as climate change, global macroeconomic stability including debt relief, health security, and global food security — because that is what the international community expects,” the White House said.
No word from the White House as to whether Biden’s adminstration will still try to work with the Dictator on these issues, however, The Guardian reports that Biden said on Tuesday that Xi had been concerned by the so-called Quad strategic security group, which includes Japan, Australia, India and the US. The US president said he previously told Xi the US was not trying to encircle China with the Quad.
“He called me and told me not to do that because it was putting him in a bind,” Biden said, revealing content from a phone call that would generally be considered confidential, if not classified.
Sources: BBC, AP, CNN, news agencies.