DIPLOMACY The US President was speaking at a fund-raising dinner, while his Secretary of State returned from a visit to China.
That’s not going to help the détente. On Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden described his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as a “dictator” at a reception in California attended by journalists and Democratic Party donors.
Referring to a recent episode in which the United States destroyed a Chinese balloon that it claimed was spying on its territory, Joe Biden assured the audience that “the reason (the Chinese president) got so upset when I shot down that balloon full of spy equipment is because he didn’t know (the device) was there”.
“It’s very embarrassing for dictators when they don’t know what happened,” he continued, adding, “When (the balloon) was shot down (Xi Jinping) found himself very embarrassed and he even denied that (the aircraft) was there.” “And by the way, I promise you, don’t worry about China (…) China has real economic difficulties,” said the 80-year-old Democrat, who is campaigning for re-election.
Blinken back from China
Still on the subject of Xi Jinping, Joe Biden declared: “We’re in a situation where he wants to re-establish a relationship”. Recalling that the head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, had just returned from China, the American president felt that Blinken had done a “good job”, but explained that it would “take time” to resolve the very tense relationship between the two great powers.
The all-out rivalry between China and the United States had turned into an open diplomatic crisis with this balloon episode in February.
This is not the first time that Joe Biden has made significant statements at fund-raising receptions, small-scale events at which cameras, microphones and still cameras are excluded – the journalists present can, however, listen to the president’s introductory remarks and transcribe them.
At one such event in October 2022, for example, Joe Biden spoke of the risk of a nuclear “apocalypse” triggered by Russia.