China hit back at US President Joe Biden on Wednesday after he called his counterpart Xi Jinping “a dictator during a fundraising event in California.
Hours later Biden’s remarks, Beijing came out with a strong retort saying that his statements were absurd and an open provocation. The ti-for-tat comes at a time when both sides are working to lower tensions.
Expressing China’s strong dissatisfaction, foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Biden’s comments seriously violated facts, diplomatic protocol and China’s political dignity.
“They’re an open political provocation,” she told a news conference.
Earlier in the day, Biden further said that Xi was ‘very embarrassed’ when a Chinese spy balloon flying over sensitive American sites was shot down.
Interestingly, Biden’s remarks came just a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the Chinese leader in order to ease tensions.
“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,” Biden said at the fundraiser.
“That’s a great embarrassment for dictators. When they didn’t know what happened. That wasn’t supposed to be going where it was. It was blown off course,” Biden added.
A suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over U.S. airspace in February. The shooting down of the balloon and mutual visits by U.S. and Taiwanese officials impacted U.S.-China tensions negatively.
Biden also said that China “has some real economic difficulties” right now as data shows that China’s economy stumbled in May with industrial output and retail sales growth missing forecasts. The economic data reveals that Beijing needs to do more to shore up a shaky post-pandemic recovery.
The unprecedented remark by Joe Biden is sure to trigger a fierce reaction from the Chinese authorities.
Earlier on Monday, Antony Blinken sat with Chinese President Xi Jinping for a 35-minute long meeting, in which both leaders reportedly ‘expressed willingness to talk.’ Xi also expressed the intention to follow through on the agreements reached between him and President Biden in Bali. Previous discussions between Blinken and Chinese officials had shown limited flexibility on various contentious issues, including trade, Taiwan, human rights, Chinese military activities in the South China Sea, and Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Xi mentioned that progress had been made and specific agreements had been reached on certain matters, though he did not provide further details. He expressed satisfaction with the progress and hoped that Blinken’s visit would contribute positively to stabilising China-US relations.
Significance of Blinken’s visit to China
Blinken’s visit marked the highest-level engagement between the US and China since President Biden assumed office and the first trip by a US Secretary of State to Beijing in five years. It is expected to pave the way for future mutual visits by senior officials from both countries, potentially leading to a meeting between Xi and Biden in the coming months.
Earlier on Monday, Blinken held a three-hour meeting with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, according to a US official. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Blinken’s visit coincided with a critical moment in China-US relations and called for a choice between dialogue or confrontation, cooperation or conflict.
The ministry blamed the current strained relations on the US’s flawed perception of China, leading to misguided policies. It urged the US to halt the decline in relations and take steps such as ending the “China threat theory,” lifting unilateral sanctions against China, ceasing suppression of China’s technological development, and refraining from interfering arbitrarily in China’s internal affairs.
Source : WioNews