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18 Sep, 2023 19:22

China summons German envoy over Baerbock’s ‘dictator’ remark

Beijing has strongly criticized the German FM for labeling President Xi a despot, calling her words “open political provocation”
China summons German envoy over Baerbock’s ‘dictator’ remark

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has summoned German ambassador Patricia Flor after Berlin’s top diplomat, Annalena Baerbock, referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “dictator.” 

The ambassador “was summoned to the Chinese Foreign Ministry [on Sunday],” a spokesman from the German Foreign Ministry told AFP on Monday.

Baerbock made her remark while on a visit to New York on Thursday. Speaking to Fox News, she claimed that if the West allowed Ukraine to lose its conflict with Russia, this would embolden “other dictators in the world…Like Xi, the Chinese president.”

Beijing was “extremely dissatisfied” with Baerbock’s words, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told reporters earlier on Monday. Mao said that Baerbock’s “absurd” comments “violate China’s political dignity” and are tantamount to an “open political provocation.”

Relations between Berlin and Beijing have deteriorated as of late, with Germany calling for reduced economic reliance on China in its first-ever China strategy, which was published in July. Despite China being Germany’s largest trading partner, the document branded Beijing a “systemic rival.”

In labeling Xi a “dictator,” Baerbock followed in the footsteps of US President Joe Biden, who applied the same descriptor to the Chinese leader in June. Biden’s statement came immediately after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Xi in Beijing, and reportedly caused American officials to reassure their Chinese counterparts that Biden’s words did not represent a shift in US policy.