Biden Downplays Calling China’s Leader a Dictator

Biden Downplays Calling China's Leader a Dictator

( – President Joe Biden added new waves to an already choppy relationship between the United States and China during a recent fundraising event when he took an unscripted stab at President Xi Jinping. Beijing submitted an official complaint with US Ambassador Nicholas Burns, and yet the commander-in-chief went on to openly dismiss the issue, downplaying his gaffe and attempting to sweep it under the rug.

The Associated Press reported that Biden attempted to appeal to wealthy donors during a 2024 re-election campaign event on Tuesday, June 20. He touched on an incident dealing with the US military shooting down a Chinese balloon in February, stating that Xi was so upset about the episode, which Biden claimed involved “two box cars full of spy equipment,” while the foreign president stated he “didn’t know it was there.” He awkwardly and nearly incoherently added that such an oversight was “the great embarrassment for dictators.”

The Wall Street Journal noted that China’s Foreign Ministry issued a formal complaint, called a démarche, in response to Biden’s attack. Officials use this route when they want “to persuade, inform, or gather information from a foreign government.” It’s also a means of protesting another government’s actions.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning also publicly responded to Biden’s statement, calling it “extremely absurd and irresponsible” and “a blatant political provocation.” Beijing maintains that the US shot down the balloon used solely for meteorological research. The People’s Republic of China insisted the aerial vehicle had merely gone off course.

The heavy blow could undermine the progress US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made during his recent two-day visit to Beijing. He had met with Chinese officials hoping to ease tensions between the two countries, and they appeared to find common ground in their desire to open communications and avoid future conflicts. Blinken had pushed for both countries to move past the balloon event, making Biden’s comment all the more damaging.

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