West News Wire: Just one day after his top diplomat departed Beijing for a visit meant to improve tense relations between the two nations, President Joe Biden compared his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to a dictator.
Speaking on Tuesday at a Democratic Party fundraiser in northern California, Biden claimed that Xi was upset about a February incident in which a Chinese balloon, which Washington claims were being used for surveillance, sailed over the country before being shot down.
“Xi Jinping didn’t know it was there, which is why he got very upset when I shot that balloon down with two box cars full of spy gear,” stated Biden.
“That causes dictators a lot of shame. when they were unaware of what had happened. That wasn’t supposed to be going where it was. It was blown off course.”
The balloon incident exacerbated an already difficult US-China relationship, which was strained over issues from self-ruled Taiwan to semiconductors and human rights, and prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a planned visit to Beijing.
Blinken eventually travelled there last weekend, holding discussions with Foreign Minister Qin Gang, top foreign affairs official Wang Yi, and on Monday afternoon, Xi himself.
Despite the lack of progress, Blinken and Xi did concur on the necessity of stabilising the competition between Washington and Beijing to prevent it from devolving into hostilities.
Even while Biden said afterward that he believed the two nations’ relations were headed in the right direction, his remarks at the fundraiser run the risk of causing further harm to the delicate alliance.
Biden’s alleged remarks have been branded as “extremely absurd and irresponsible” by China.
Wednesday’s statement by Mao Ning, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, claimed that Biden’s remarks “go totally against facts, seriously violate diplomatic protocol, and severely infringe on China’s political dignity.”
“It’s an obvious political provocation. At a daily briefing, Mao remarked, “China expresses significant displeasure and disagreement.
Xi is serving an unprecedented third term as Chinese president and is China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.
Biden, who is 80, is running for a second term as US president in the 2024 election.