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26 Feb, 2024 21:04

Biden calls China’s Xi ‘head of Russia’

The US president botched his Chinese counterpart’s nationality while also failing to remember Barack Obama’s name
Biden calls China’s Xi ‘head of Russia’

US President Joe Biden has again stumbled with the nationalities and identities of world leaders, referring to Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as the “head of Russia” and failing to remember the name of his former boss, Barack Obama.

The oldest president in American history made his latest mental gaffes while hosting a White House dinner for US governors on Saturday night. Referring to instructions he received from then-President Obama, Biden said, “When I was vice president, president uh, my president told me that he wanted me to get to know Xi Jinping because it was clear he was going to be the head of Russia, um, of China, and we were having problems with Russia at the time, and other countries as well.” 

Biden then went on to make a false claim that he has repeated dozens of times, saying that he traveled 17,000 miles with Xi in the US and China. The Washington Post gave Biden a “bottomless Pinocchio” rating in November 2022 for telling the false tale on so many occasions. The newspaper’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, could only find one trip in which Biden and Xi traveled together, when they visited a high school outside Beijing in August 2021.

Biden also repeated an erroneous anecdote about a conversation with Xi on the Tibetan plateau, where the two men never went together. “This is the God’s truth,” he has previously said of that alleged meeting. At Saturday’s White House event, he said of the story, “This has been documented, and it’s real.”

Standing in front of a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, Biden referred to the former president as “the man behind me here.” As he began to read a famous Lincoln statement from his notes, he told the governors, “I want to make sure I get the quote exactly right.” However, he proceeded to butcher the quote.

The 81-year-old Biden’s latest mental stumble comes more than two weeks after a US Department of Justice special prosecutor reported that although he had found evidence of criminal conduct by the president, a jury would be reluctant to convict him because he comes across as a “well-meaning elderly man with a bad memory.” The prosecutor, Robert Hur, said evidence showed that Biden “willfully retained and disclosed” classified documents from his two terms as vice president.

Biden called a White House press briefing to deny Hur’s claims about his failing memory, but at the same event, he misidentified Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the leader of Mexico. Earlier in the same week, he struggled to remember the name of Hamas, and he claimed to have spoken in 2021 with French and German leaders who had died years before.