Biden Stands by Referring to Xi As ‘Dictator,’ Sees No Change in Relations With Beijing

Biden Stands by Referring to Xi As ‘Dictator,’ Sees No Change in Relations With Beijing
President Joe Biden delivers remarks during a joint press conference with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House on June 22, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Emel Akan

President Joe Biden stated on June 22 that his referring to Chinese leader Xi Jinping as a “dictator” will have no real effect on the U.S.–China relationship.

During a joint press conference with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Biden said that he stood by his remarks on Xi.

When asked by a reporter whether his words would undermine or complicate his administration’s efforts to maintain a relationship with China, he said no.

He added that avoiding telling the truth about the U.S.–China relationship is something he isn’t going to change.

The president smiled as he said: “We had an incident that caused some confusion, you might say.

“But Secretary Blinken had a great trip to China. I expect to be meeting with President Xi sometime in the future, in the near term, and I don’t think it’s had any real consequence.”

Biden made comments about Xi during a fundraiser event in California on June 20. He unexpectedly referred to the Chinese leader as a “dictator” while recalling the recent spy balloon incident.

Biden said the Chinese spy balloon, which was shot down in February by the U.S. military after being blown off course over the United States, had caused “great embarrassment” for Xi.

“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,” Biden said at the event.

“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.”

Biden’s comments came a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded his meetings in Beijing.

Blinken described his China trip, which included a meeting with Xi, as “robust,” adding that both parties agreed on the importance of stabilizing the difficult relations between the two powers.

“I came to Beijing to strengthen high-level challenges of communication, to make clear our positions and intentions in areas of disagreement, and to explore areas where we might work together when our interests align on shared transnational challenges. And we did all of that,” Blinken said at a press conference following his meeting with Xi.

Xi also expressed satisfaction with the progress made over the two days of talks between top U.S. and Chinese officials. Blinken, however, noted that the Chinese communist regime refused the United States’ request to resume bilateral exchanges at the military level.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry called Biden’s remarks “extremely absurd and extremely irresponsible.”

On June 21, Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Xie Feng made strong protests to senior White House and U.S. State Department officials about Biden’s comments, according to media reports.

“We urge the U.S. side to immediately take earnest actions to undo the negative impact and honor its own commitments. Otherwise, it will have to bear all the consequences,” the statement from the embassy said.

These developments are expected to disrupt Biden’s efforts to mend relations with the Chinese regime.

During a press conference at the end of the G-7 summit of leading developed nations in Japan in May, Biden projected a “thaw” in relations with China in the near future.

Biden blamed the worsening in relations on a “silly balloon” that flew over the breadth of the United States with spy equipment before finally being shot down by a U.S. fighter plane over the Atlantic Ocean.

Biden has been pursuing another summit with Xi, but Beijing has reportedly been turning him down. Both leaders last met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Nov. 14, 2022.

The Chinese Communist Party is widely seen as a threat by members of both parties in the U.S. Congress. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) declined to comment on Biden’s characterization of Xi but told reporters, “I would characterize what is happening with the Chinese Communist Party and their repression of their citizens as highly problematic, inconsistent with our values as Americans, and that we’re going to continue to stand on the side of freedom.”

Aldgra Fredly contributed to this report.
Emel Akan is a senior White House correspondent for The Epoch Times, where she covers the Biden administration. Prior to this role, she covered the economic policies of the Trump administration. Previously, she worked in the financial sector as an investment banker at JPMorgan. She graduated with a master’s degree in business administration from Georgetown University.
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