Sunday, June 16, 2024

Biden downplays impact of ‘dictator’ remarks on Xi

Despite the Beijing government warning of “consequences” for his remarks, US President Joe Biden has downplayed the impact of his comments comparing his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to a “dictator”.

Addressing a joint press conference alongside visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Biden on Thursday said that “I don’t think it’s had any real consequence” and called rejected concerns over worsening US-China ties as “hysteria”, reports CNN.

The President also said he expected to meet Xi in the near future, and suggested he would not going to tone down his rhetoric.

“The idea of me choosing and avoiding saying what I think is facts with regard to the relationship with China is just not something I’m going to change very much.”

At a fundraiser in California on Tuesday, President Biden said that Xi was embarrassed over the recent tensions involving a suspected Chinese spy balloon transiting the US which was shot down by an American fighter jet

“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. That’s a great embarrassment for dictators. When they didn’t know what happened,” he said.

In response, Chinese Ambassador to the US Xie Feng on Wednesday “made serious representations and strong protests to senior officials of the White House and the US Department of State” about the remarks, which Beijing’s Embassy in Washington called a “smear” that “seriously contradicts basic facts, breaches diplomatic etiquette, infringes on China’s political dignity, runs counter to the commitments made by the US side, and undermines mutual trust”.

“We urge the US side to immediately take earnest actions to undo the negative impact and honour its own commitments. Otherwise, it will have to bear all the consequences,” CNN quoted the Embassy as saying in a statement.

Biden made the remarks just a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken became the highest ranking American official to meet Xi in Beijing.

Blinken’s meeting with Xi in Beijing on Monday was part of efforts to improve the strained relations between the two largest economies.

On the outcome of the meeting, Xi had said that some progress was made, while Blinken indicated both sides were open to more talks as major differences remained.

Blinken’s visit to Beijing, which was the first by a Secretary of State to China in five years, restarted high-level communications between the two countries.

The Biden administration’s relationship with Beijing is one of its most complicated and consequential, and one that has seen months of strain, including two military-related incidents in recent weeks.

Biden and Xi met in person for the first time as presidents on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Indonesia last November.

Blinken’s trip, which had been announced by Biden and Xi after their meeting, was originally scheduled for February.

But it was postponed after the discovery of the suspected Chinese spy balloon.

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