John Kirby pushed back against Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy’s suggestion that President Joe Biden is weak on China.
Doocy asked Kirby, the White House coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, why the president has been tougher on Russia than China at Thursday’s White House press briefing.
“I wouldn’t agree with the premise of your question, Peter,” Kirby began.
“Well, I think when Russia was getting aggressive around Ukraine, the president was out every couple of days telling [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, ‘don’t do it.’ And now China is getting aggressive around Taiwan, and we’re not hearing anything like that from the president,” Doocy replied.
“I beg to differ, we’ve been standing here for almost a week, Peter, talking about our concerns about what China was preparing to do and we put out declassified information that we saw, what the Chinese playbook was gonna be,” Kirby said. “Look, I stood at another podium not long ago and much of the same way we reacted then, we’re reacting now in terms of being honest and transparent about what’s going on and calling it our for what it is and today talking about exactly what we’re going to do to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific. So I’m afraid I just challenge the premise of you question.”
Doocy then asked why the president has no scheduled call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying he has a lot of free time during his isolation. Kirby immediately pushed back. (RELATED: ‘Let Me Finish’: John Kirby Clashes With Doocy Over Afghanistan, Al-Qaida)
“He doesn’t have free time. He’s been working all the way through his illness, quite frankly Peter, so that’s a little bit insulting,” he said.
“It’s not insulting to say that someone who is isolating by themselves—”
“You suggested he has a lot of free time as if he’s not doing anything and you know that’s not the case, Mr. Doocy,” Kirby said.
He said he has no updates on a call with Xi, but he has spoken with the Chinese president five separate times. The lines of communications between China and the U.S. are open, he added.
Tensions arose after reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi planned to travel to Taiwan. The Chinese threatened to take aggressive military action, stating Monday they “won’t sit idly by” if the Speaker went forth with the trip.
Pelosi landed in Taiwan Tuesday evening local time, making her the first highest-ranking official to set foot there since 1997. China has yet to follow through on its threats against the U.S., however its army announced a series of military drills in six key areas around Taiwan.
The president called Xi on July 28 to reassure him that the U.S.’ stance regarding the One China policy has not changed. The policy affirms the U.S. recognition that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the sole, legitimate government in China.