President Biden this week again called Chinese President Xi Jinping a “dictator,” despite touting “positive steps” between the two nations after key talks with his Beijing counterpart in San Francisco.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken was caught on camera reacting to Biden’s remarks.
“After today, would you still refer to President Xi as a dictator?” one reporter asked the president at a press conference in California on Wednesday, referring to similar remarks Biden made earlier this year.
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“Look, he is,” Biden said. “He’s a dictator in the sense that he’s a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that is based on a form of government totally different than ours.”
Video of Blinken’s visible reaction to Biden’s soundbite is making the rounds on social media amid concerns about heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Earlier this year, Blinken appeared to back Biden’s use of the term to describe the Chinese leader. Asked about the remark in June, Blinken said that Biden “speaks for all of us.”
Biden also said in June that he didn’t think the comment had “had any real consequence.”
On Wednesday, Biden touted cooperation between the two countries.
“I welcome the positive steps we’ve taken today,” Biden said.
“We’re talking to our competitors and just talking, just being blunt with one another, so there’s no misunderstanding, as a key element to maintaining global stability and delivering for the American people.”
A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, though, told reporters Thursday that “this statement is extremely wrong and irresponsible political manipulation,” according to a Reuters report. The spokesperson reportedly did not mention Biden by name.
Biden met with Xi on the sidelines of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco, their first face-to-face meeting in nearly a year. The meeting comes amid heightened tensions throughout the Indo-Pacific.