Joe Biden calls Xi Jinping a ‘dictator’ who was embarrassed by spy balloon debacle… a day after Antony Blinken met China’s president and called for ‘mutual respect’
- Joe Biden was in California on Tuesday, and attended a fundraiser where he described China’s president as a dictator
- The president spoke about the shooting down of the spy balloon, and described it as ‘a great embarrassment for dictators’
- On Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Xi Jinping in a meeting aimed to ease tension between Washington and Beijing
President Joe Biden called Chinese President Xi Jinping a dictator in off-the-cuff remarks during a campaign stop Tuesday, comments made a day after his Secretary of State visited Xi in Beijing to try and ease tensions.
Antony Blinken became the first top U.S. diplomat to visit China in five years, and his trip was in the shadow of COVID, Taiwan tensions and the ‘spy balloon’ saga.
Washington and Beijing said progress was made without detailing concrete examples.
But Blinken’s work was soon eclipsed by Biden’s remarks at a California fundraiser on Tuesday.
‘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,’ said Biden, referencing the February incident.
‘That’s a great embarrassment for dictators. When they didn’t know what happened.
‘That wasn’t supposed to be going where it was. It was blown off course.’
Joe Biden is seen on Tuesday speaking at an Artificial Intelligence event in San Francisco. He later attended a fundraiser, where he labeled China’s president a dictator
Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State, is seen in Beijing on Monday meeting Xi Jinping. Blinken is the first top U.S. official to visit China in five years
China is yet to respond to Biden’s comments.
In March, Xi secured a precedent-breaking third term as president after clinching in October another five years as chief of the ruling Communist Party, making him China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.
Biden also said that China ‘has real economic difficulties.’
China’s economy stumbled in May with industrial output and retail sales growth missing forecasts, adding to expectations that Beijing will need to do more to shore up a shaky post-pandemic recovery.
The World Bank earlier this month forecast U.S. growth for 2023 at 1.1 percent – more than double the 0.5 percent forecast in January.
China’s growth, meanwhile, is expected to climb to 5.6 percent, compared to a 4.3 percent forecast in January.
Blinken and Xi agreed in their Monday meeting to stabilize the intense rivalry between Washington and Beijing so it did not veer into conflict, but failed to produce any breakthrough during a rare visit to China by the secretary of state.
They did agree to continue diplomatic engagement with more visits by U.S. officials in the coming weeks and months.
The Chinese ‘spy balloon’ is pictured on February 4 being shot down off the coast of South Carolina
The ‘spy balloon’ is seen on February 1 over Billings, Montana. It traversed the U.S. before it was shot down
Biden said Monday he thought relations between the two countries were on the right path, and he indicated that progress was made during Blinken’s trip.
Biden said on Tuesday that Xi had been concerned by the so-called Quad strategic security group, which includes Japan, Australia, India and the United States.
The U.S. president said he previously told Xi the U.S. 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.
Later this week, Biden will meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China is expected to be a topic of discussion between the two leaders.
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