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21 Jun, 2023 09:54

China hits back at Biden over ‘dictator Xi’ comments

The US president’s remarks are “absurd” and amount to “an open political provocation,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry has said
China hits back at Biden over ‘dictator Xi’ comments

Beijing has pushed back against remarks by US President Joe Biden referring to Chinese leader Xi Jinping as “a dictator,” claiming that the statements are outright offensive.

Speaking on Tuesday at a fundraiser in California, Biden addressed the controversy surrounding a Chinese balloon that entered US airspace earlier this year, suggesting that Xi did not know the vessel was even there.

“That’s a great embarrassment for dictators. When they didn’t know what happened. That [balloon] wasn’t supposed to be going where it was. It was blown off course,” he said at the time.

On Wednesday, speaking at a regular press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning described the remarks as “extremely absurd,” adding that they “seriously violated China’s political dignity.” She said that such statements also violate diplomatic etiquette and contradict basic facts.

“It is an open political provocation,” Mao stressed.

The spokeswoman also reiterated China’s position that the balloon – which Washington has insisted was seeking to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States – strayed into US airspace due to “force majeure factors.”

“The US side distorted the facts and abused force, fully reflecting the US’ bullying and hegemonic nature,” she said.

The back-and-forth between China and the US comes shortly after a landmark visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing, where he met with Xi and other senior Chinese officials.

On Monday, the top US diplomat stated that both countries had achieved “progress” towards putting their bilateral relations back on track. Blinken also vowed that the US would “responsibly manage” competition with China so that their relationship “does not veer into conflict,” according to the State Department.

During the meeting with Blinken, Xi said that Beijing “respects US interests and does not seek to challenge or displace the United States,” adding that Washington also “needs to respect China” and not hurt its legitimate rights and interests.

In recent months, Sino-US relations have been marred by a number of disagreements, with Taiwan being one of the most divisive. China considers the self-governing island a part of its sovereign territory and has repeatedly protested against Washington selling military equipment to Taipei.