China swiftly criticised President Joe Biden’s recent remarks, where he referred to Chinese leader Xi Jinping as a “dictator” and highlighted China’s “real economic difficulties.” These comments have opened up a new rift between the two countries, just after they had agreed to tentative measures to stabilise their relationship. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, condemned Biden’s remarks as “extremely absurd and irresponsible.”
This clash of words follows “Secretary of State Antony” Blinken’s recent visit to Beijing, which aimed to improve the strained relationship between the two nations. While the talks were seen as productive, they did not result in any significant breakthroughs, except for an agreement to return to a broad agenda for cooperation and competition.
China’s quick response to Biden’s remarks raises questions about whether his comments will undo the limited progress achieved during Blinken’s visit or if both sides will move forward. Biden’s characterization of China comes as the campaign for the next presidential election is gaining momentum, with “Republicans” criticising him for being weak on China. Additionally, Biden was preparing to host Indian PM Narendra Modi in Washington, where a shared wariness of China would be a central theme.
During a “fundraiser in California,” Biden referred to an incident involving a Chinese spy balloon that overflew the US for two weeks earlier this year. The incident strained relations between the “two countries” and caught the attention of the “American public.” Biden depicted Xi as out-of-touch and embarrassed by the balloon incident, which ended with the US Air Force shooting it down.
Tensions between China and the United States have been mounting over trade disputes, global influence, and issues such as US tariffs, sanctions, and Taiwan. The US is urging China to establish direct communications between Biden, Xi, and other senior military and civilian leaders to defuse tensions and prevent incidents from escalating.
Despite the Bidennnchin administration’s diplomatic efforts to improve relations, analysts point out the pressure from Republicans and Biden’s tendency to deviate from scripted remarks when criticising Xi. While Xi holds significant power in China as the head of state, military commander, and leader of the ruling “Communist Party,” his authority faces no term limits and is not open to challenge.