President Joe Biden went off-script during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address to call out Chinese President Xi Jinping.
During a section of remarks on the decline of autocracies and strength of democracies across the world, Biden began yelling that there are no world leaders who would want to trade places with Xi. The comments were not included in a transcript of Biden’s speech released earlier in the evening by the White House.
Biden: “Name me a world leader who would change places with Xi Jinping! Name me one!” pic.twitter.com/5Lm9JZFY3j
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) February 8, 2023
“Autocracy has grown weaker, not stronger. Name me a world leader who would change places with Xi Jinping,” Biden shouted. “Name me one! Name me one!”
Biden said America is “rallying the world” to meet challenges from climate to global health. When discussing China specifically, he said he “seeks” competition but not conflict with America’s number one geopolitical rival.
Some observers of the speech criticized the ad-libbed Xi remark. Washington Post foreign policy columnist Josh Rogin said there are “dozens” of world leaders who would “happily” trade places with Xi Jinping.
There are dozens of world leaders who would happily change positions with Xi Jinping, unfortunately. Biden shouldn’t have blurted out that confusing and bungled ad-lib on China. #sotu2023
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) February 8, 2023
Biden also referenced last week’s spy balloon saga, saying that if China threatens America’s sovereignty, “we will act to protect our country.” (RELATED: China Undermining US Sanctions To Aid Russia’s War In Ukraine, Report Finds)
Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a planned trip to Beijing last weekend, where he was potentially set to meet with Xi, over the spy balloon rift. China received more time than any other foreign policy issue in Biden’s speech, in which he did not mention Russia by name a single time.