President Biden repeated his reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “dictator” on Wednesday just hours after a spokeswoman for the Chinese government vowed her country would be “unstoppable” in eventually retaking Taiwan.
Biden’s comments came at his press conference concluding the U.S.-China summit in San Francisco when a reporter asked if he would still refer to Xi using the term, which he used for the first time in June.
“Well, look, he is. 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 that is totally different than ours,” Biden said.
President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ week in Woodside, California on November 15, 2023.(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Biden’s first reference to Xi as a “dictator” came amid the aftermath of a Chinese spy balloon traversing the continental U.S., which caused an uproar after the president waited until it was off the coast of South Carolina before giving the order to bring it down.
“The reason why Xi Jinping got very upset in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two box cars full of spy equipment in it was he didn’t know it was there. That’s a great embarrassment for dictators when they didn’t know what happened,” Biden said.
U.S. forces haul debris from China’s surveillance balloon onto a boat off the coast of South Carolina.(US Fleet Forces)
Amid his summit with Xi on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying issued a blunt warning about America’s friendly relations with Taiwan, referring to the “Taiwan question” as “the most important and most sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations.”
“The U.S. side should take real actions to honor its commitment of not supporting ‘Taiwan independence’, stop arming Taiwan, and support China’s peaceful reunification. China will realize reunification, and this is unstoppable,” she wrote in a post on X.
In his concluding press conference, Biden also referenced deals he said the two governments reached regarding fentanyl supplies coming into the U.S. from Asia and plans to improve communications between the American and Chinese militaries.