California: During a fundraiser event on Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden made a comment referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a dictator, highlighting the delicate balance required in managing relations with an assertive global rival while catering to domestic audiences ahead of his potential re-election bid.
Biden’s statement came just after Secretary of State Antony Blinken ended his first official visit to Beijing, attempting to repair strained ties between the two countries. This deterioration was compounded in February when the United States claimed to have shot down a surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina, an occurrence China disputed.
Moreover, Biden shared a personal anecdote about Xi’s alleged embarrassment when a suspected Chinese spy balloon drifted off course into U.S. airspace earlier this year. This remark diverged from Blinken’s suggestion on Monday that it was time to move past the incident.
Speaking at a fundraiser in Kentfield, California, in support of his potential second presidential term in the 2024 elections, Biden mentioned that Xi Jinping was upset because he was unaware of the presence of spy equipment inside the balloon that Biden ordered to be shot down.
While Xi Jinping, who met with Blinken on Monday, has not publicly responded to Biden’s comments, their impact is likely to be unfavourable in Beijing. They could potentially disrupt the efforts of both countries to stabilise their relationship following the balloon incident.
In summary, Biden’s characterization of Xi as a dictator, along with his personal comment about the Chinese leader’s alleged embarrassment, underscore the complexity of managing relations with China, particularly when considering the sensitivities and potential consequences involved in such statements.