| 20 June 2024, Thursday |

Biden calls Xi a dictator after carefully planned summit

After the two leaders concluded forthright summit talks, U.S. President Joe Biden stated on Wednesday that he had not modified his opinion that Chinese President Xi Jinping was essentially a dictator. Beijing is expected to take offense at this statement.

After four hours of negotiations with Xi on the outskirts of San Francisco, Biden had a solitary press conference. He was questioned about if he still believed that Xi was a dictator after the news conference. He had stated as much in June.

“Look, he is. He’s a dictator in the sense that he’s a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that’s based on a form of government totally different than ours,” Biden said.

In response, China’s foreign ministry said it “strongly opposes” the remarks, without mentioning Biden by name.

“This statement is extremely wrong and irresponsible political manipulation,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters on Thursday at a routine briefing.

“It should be pointed out that there will always be some people with ulterior motives who attempt to incite and damage U.S.-China relations, they are doomed to fail.”

Mao refused to specify the identity of “some people” in answer to a follow-up question.

Last March Xi clinched a third term as president when nearly 3,000 members of China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, voted unanimously for him in an election in which there was no other candidate.

Xi is considered the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, after a decade of consolidating power in policy-making and the military, and stifling media freedoms.

There was no immediate reaction from the Chinese delegation, which had come to the United States to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco. Hundreds of critics of Beijing marched through the city’s downtown around noon, chanting “free Tibet” and “free Hong Kong.”

When Biden made a similar dictator reference in June, China called the remarks absurd and a provocation. But the spat did not prevent the two sides from holding extensive talks aimed at improving strained relations, which culminated in Wednesday’s meeting.

  • Reuters