Biden Refers to Xi as a "Dictator": Straining US-China Relations
Just when signs of relaxation between the US and China were emerging, US President Biden sparked another controversy with a statement. According to media reports, he compared China's President Xi to "dictators."
There were images and sounds of cautious rapprochement during the visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to China. However, it appears that American President Joe Biden has sharply attacked Chinese President and Party leader Xi Jinping with a statement during an event in California.
According to consistent media reports, Biden referred to the alleged spy balloon that was shot down over the US in February and is believed to be of Chinese origin.
The Chinese government had repeatedly denied the espionage allegations at the time. They claimed it was a weather balloon that had veered off course. However, Biden's account sounded very different. After the balloon was shot down, clear evidence of spying equipment was found. And Xi became upset about the incident because he no longer knew the balloon's location at the time of the shooting, Reuters quoted the US president. "That's very embarrassing for dictators," Biden reportedly added.
Spying allegations had further exacerbated tensions
The Chinese Foreign Ministry stated that Biden's remarks were "irresponsible" and a "political provocation." Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning criticized Biden for seriously violating the political dignity of the People's Republic. The two nations have long been experiencing significant tensions, particularly regarding trade, human rights issues, and the handling of Taiwan.
The shooting down of the alleged spy balloon eventually led to the indefinite postponement of the planned visit of US Secretary of State Blinken to Beijing, originally scheduled for early February. The Chinese government largely froze its communication channels with the US.
Xi hopes for "stabilization of relations"
Earlier this week, Blinken finally traveled to China. Until the last moment, it was unclear whether he would meet with Chinese President Xi in addition to his counterpart Qin Gang. Talks were held with the Chinese leader, and afterward, Xi expressed hope that Blinken's visit could "make a positive contribution to the stabilization of relations between China and the United States."
Biden also viewed his Secretary of State's visit to Beijing positively. He stated that Blinken had done a "damn good job." It was the first visit by a US Secretary of State to China in five years. Biden and Xi last met in November at the G20 summit in Bali.