President Joe Biden is seeking to put distance between himself and China amid accusations that he benefited from business dealings in China and that administration officials attempted to conceal China’s government ties to the origin of COVID-19.
Walking a fine diplomatic line, Biden minimized the significance of an incursion of a Chinese spy balloon into U.S. airspace but in the same speech, referred to China’s leader Xi Jinping as a dictator.
The Daily Caller reported that on Tuesday, Biden claimed Xi Jinping “got ‘very upset’ and that it was ‘a great embarrassment for dictators’ because the Chinese leader didn’t even know the balloon was there.”
President Biden said: “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.”
Biden asserted the spy balloon was inadvertently blown off course, making an unscheduled journey across the United States.
President Biden’s comments that Xi Jinping was a “dictator” swiftly drew the ire of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Their spokesperson labeled Biden’s comments as “ridiculously absurd and irresponsible.”
Chinese officials also claimed that Biden’s portrayal of what happened was a “grave disregard for basic facts, a serious breach of diplomatic protocol, and a serious violation of China’s political dignity.”
The spokesperson went on to say that Biden’s remarks amounted to “open political provocation,” and was prompting “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” from the Chinese government.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently returned from a long-planned trip to China in mid-June.
Despite failed efforts to mitigate diplomatic fallout and establish a direct military-to-military hotline, President Biden said Blinken did “a hell of a job” in China.
In commenting about Blinken’s trip, the president addressed the audience’s potential concerns about the Asian superpower, saying, “I promise you we’re going to — don’t worry about China. I mean, worry about China, but don’t worry about China.”