On Tuesday (June 20), President Joe Biden called Chinese President Xi Jinping a dictator while suggesting that Xi was deeply embarrassed when a Chinese balloon recently veered over the United States.
Biden explained the “reason” Xi was “upset” about the balloon — which Biden described as containing “two box cars full of spy equipment” — being shot down was because the Chinese President “didn’t know it was there.”
Biden added, “That’s a great embarrassment for dictators,” continuing that Xi “didn’t know what happened” and wasn’t supposed to be flying over the U.S., insisting that the balloon “was blown off course.”
Biden also suggested China was experiencing “real economic difficulties.”
Biden made his comments at a fundraiser in California a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Xi during his trip to China to ease tensions between the U.S. and China.
On Monday (June 19), Blinken and Xi agreed to stabilize the tense rivalry between Washington and Beijing from erupting into conflict. However, the Secretary of State failed to make a significant breakthrough during the foreign minister’s rare visit to China.
Also on Monday, Biden said he believes relations between the two countries are on the right track and that progress has been made during Blinken’s trip.
But tensions raised on Wednesday (June 21) when China hit back because Biden called President Xi Jinping a “dictator,” saying the remarks were “extremely absurd” and “irresponsible.”
Expressing China’s strong displeasure, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Biden’s comments seriously violated facts, diplomatic protocol, and China’s political dignity.
“They are an open political provocation,” she said at a press conference.
Director of the Center for American Studies at Shanghai Fudan University, Wu Xinbo, said, “Biden’s big mouth is a loose cannon, suggesting those comments are “very destructive and damaging.”
Wu added that the remarks may not completely undo what Blinken achieved during his visit to China.