(HONG KONG) — The highly-anticipated meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping has been overshadowed by Biden’s comments calling Xi a “dictator” after the two leaders met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in San Francisco on Wednesday.
“Well, look, he is,” Biden said. “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.”
China condemned his words at a regular press conference in Beijing on Thursday, with Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning saying this kind of speech is “extremely wrong,” calling it “irresponsible political manipulation.”
Chinese censors have blacked out foreign media mentions of Biden’s remarks. Comments on Chinese social media platform Weibo are awash with rosy perspectives on the meeting.
It’s not the first time the president has called Xi a dictator. Biden used the same label back in June — a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Xi for talks.
The U.S. isn’t concerned that progress made during the meeting will be undone by the “dictator” comment, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America Thursday.
“No, no concern at all. I mean, we had a really good set of discussions yesterday, George, on a lot of topics,” Kirby said.
China earlier released a readout which touted progress in the U.S.-China relationship — signalling hopes for a reset but also making it very clear that China’s interests must be respected — especially on the highly sensitive issue of Taiwan, which it considers a breakaway province of mainland China.
China said the United States should stop arming Taiwan and support China’s “Peaceful reunification.”
Taiwan also released a statement following the meeting, with the self-governing island expressing gratitude to Biden for “publicly expressing the United States’ firm stance on maintaining peace in the Taiwan strait.”
Taiwan also said it will continue to “actively strengthen its self-defense capabilities” and “deepen the Taiwan-US security partnership.”
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