US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reacted with a flinch and a disapproving shake of the head when President Joe Biden went off the script to describe his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as a “dictator”.
President Jinping stepped onto American soil for the first time in six years, embarking on a high-stakes summit with President Biden aimed at mending frayed ties and restoring normalcy to bilateral relations between the two nations.
The two leaders met Wednesday morning before the annual summit of the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. The summit heralded their first face-to-face meeting in a year, following months of intensive diplomatic efforts to lay the groundwork for this critical dialogue, amidst mounting tensions across a spectrum of issues, including trade, human rights, and the pandemic.
“He’s a dictator in the sense that he’s a guy who’s running a country, a Communist country, that’s based on a form of government totally different than ours,” President Biden said on the sidelines of the summit.
Blinken’s face when Biden calls President Xi a dictator 🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/2sAPeGxwlZ
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) November 16, 2023
A video of Blinken flinching on camera at the usage of the word has now gone viral on social media.
The Chinese government strongly condemned the remark by the US President.
“This kind of speech is extremely wrong and is irresponsible political manipulation. China firmly opposes it,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.
Blinken, however, defended Biden’s comments, saying that China should expect candid statements it dislikes.
“The president always speaks candidly and he speaks for all of us. Look, it’s clear that we will continue to say things and continue to do things that China doesn’t like, just as I assume that they will continue to do and say things that we don’t like,” Blinken told CBS News as quoted by news agency AFP.
Despite disagreements over Taiwan, the two leaders reached an agreement to reestablish military-to-military communication channels and President Xi pledged to curtail the production of fentanyl precursors in China.