A day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up a high-stakes visit to China aimed at easing soaring tensions between the countries, US President Joe Biden referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a dictator.
Blinken, while in China, had met President Jinping, a meeting, which was confirmed just an hour beforehand. In earlier meetings between Blinken and senior Chinese officials, the two sides expressed willingness to talk but showed little inclination to bend on hardened positions.
Blinken is the highest-level U.S. official to visit China since President Joe Biden took office, and the first secretary of state to make the trip in five years. His visit is expected to usher in a new round of visits by senior U.S. and Chinese officials, possibly including a meeting between Xi and Biden in the coming months.
Biden, at a fundraiser event in Kentfield, California, in support of his bid for a second term said, “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 is he didn’t know it was there.”
“That was the great embarrassment for dictators when they didn’t know what happened. That wasn’t supposed to be going where it was,” he added, CNBC reported.
Relations between the two superpowers have long been under strain over trade, the human rights of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region, Taiwan and many other issues. Blinken and Xi, in their meeting, agreed they would take steps to stabilize the intense rivalry between Washington and Beijing to prevent conflict.