Biden calls Chinese President Xi a dictator
CALIFORNIA US President Joe Biden on Tuesday called Chinese President Xi Jinping a dictator, adding that Mr Xi was very embarrassed when a Chinese balloon was blown off course over the US recently.
Mr Biden made the remarks at a fund-raiser in California a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Mr Xi during a trip to China that was aimed at easing tensions between the two countries.
“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,” Mr Biden said.
“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,” Mr Biden added.
A suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over US airspace in February.
That incident and exchanges of visits by US and Taiwanese officials have recently magnified US-China tensions.
Mr 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 US growth for 2023 at 1.1 per cent, more than double the 0.5 per cent forecast in January, while China’s growth is expected to climb to 5.6 per cent, compared with a 4.3 per cent forecast in January.
Mr Blinken and Mr Xi on Monday agreed in their meeting to stabilise the intense rivalry between Washington and Beijing so it does not veer into conflict, but failed to produce any major breakthrough during a rare visit to China by the Secretary of State.
They did agree to continue diplomatic engagement with more visits by US officials in the coming weeks and months.
Mr Biden himself said on Monday he thought relations between the two countries were on the right path, and he indicated that progress was made during Mr Blinken’s trip.
Mr Biden said on Tuesday that Mr Xi had been concerned by the so-called Quad strategic security group, which includes Japan, Australia, India and the United States.
The US President said he previously told Mr Xi that the US 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,” Mr Biden said.
Later this week, Mr Biden will meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and China is expected to be a topic of discussion between the two leaders. - REUTERS