President Joe Biden defended calling Chinese leader Xi Jinping a “dictator,” doubling down on his previous comments by saying he thinks they are “facts.”
A reporter asked Biden on Thursday if his comments could cause problems in bilateral relations with China.
“No. When we’re talking to our allies and partners around the world, including India, we let the idea of my choosing and avoiding saying what I think is the facts, with regard to the relationship with … China. Is just not something that I’m going to change very much …,” the president said during a press conference with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We had an incident that caused some confusion, some might say, but Secretary Blinken had a great trip to China. I expect to be meeting with President Xi in the future… I don’t think its had any real consequence,” Biden added.
Biden called Xi a “dictator” on Tuesday while discussing how the U.S. military shot down a Chinese spy balloon. He claimed Xi got “very upset” and that the incident was “a great embarrassment for dictators” because the Chinese leader didn’t know the balloon was there. (RELATED: ‘Open Political Provocation’: Biden Trades Blows With China After ‘Dictators’ Comment)
“China is real — has real economic difficulties. And the reason why Xi Jinping got very upset in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two boxcars full of spy equipment in it is he didn’t know it was there. No, I’m serious. That’s what’s a great embarrassment for dictators, when they didn’t know what happened. That wasn’t supposed to be going where it was. It was blown off course up through Alaska and then down through the United States. And he didn’t know about it. When it got shot down, he was very embarrassed. He denied it was even there,” Biden said Tuesday during remarks at a campaign reception.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry had responded to Biden’s “dictator” comment with fury, saying “it is a grave disregard for basic facts, a serious breach of diplomatic protocol, a serious violation of China’s political dignity and amounted to open political provocation.”
The Chinese government also summoned U.S. ambassador Nicholas Burns for an official reprimand following Biden’s “dictator” remarks, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing officials familiar with the demarche.