OAN’s Roy Francis
10:32 AM – Thursday, June 22, 2023
President Joe Biden called Chinese leader Xi Jinping a “dictator” and that China is a country with very “real economic difficulties” after Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip.
During a fundraiser event in California on Tuesday night, Biden said that Xi was upset when the United States military had shot down the Chinese spy balloon, and that he had not known the location of the balloon.
“The reason why Xi Jinping got very upset, in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two boxcars full of spy equipment in it, is he didn’t know it was there,” Biden said. “No, I’m serious. That’s what’s a great embarrassment for dictators, when they didn’t know what happened. It was blown off course up through Alaska and then down through the United States. And he didn’t know about it. When it got shot down, he was very embarrassed. He denied it was even there.”
The remarks from Biden drew criticism and condemnation from China, furthering the rift between the two nations. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said that Biden’s comments were “extremely absurd and irresponsible,” and that they “go totally against facts and seriously violate diplomatic protocol, and severely infringe on China’s political dignity.”
Officials in the Biden administration were caught off guard by the comments, and had rushed to clarify that his description of the Chinese leader does not reflect any “new talking points or official policy shift by the administration,” officials went on to say that they do not expect the comments to cause any setbacks with the Chinese.
“It should come as no surprise that the president speaks candidly about China and the differences that we have — we are certainly not alone in that,” a senior administration official said. “The president believes that diplomacy, including that undertaken by Secretary Blinken, is the responsible way to manage tensions. Secretary Blinken had a good trip and made some progress. We have every expectation of building on that progress.”
Confusion among Biden administration officials was apparent as one official had said that Biden’s remarks were pointed towards dictators in general and not Xi specifically, while another said that it was clear that the President was calling the Chinese leader a dictator.
The remarks from Biden come after Blinken had finished his visit to China in an effort to try and restore the relationship with China which has now reached an all time low. Blinken and Chinese representatives both reported that the visit and talks were productive, however, no significant breakthrough or progress was reported.
Biden also downplayed the economic competition with China, the world’s second largest economy, behind the United States.
“By the way, I promise you, don’t worry about China. Worry about China but don’t worry about China,” Biden said. “I really mean it. China has real economic difficulties.”
Meanwhile, U.S. officials have been pressing China to embrace direct communications between Xi and Biden and other senior leaders as a means to increase communications and decrease tensions.
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