Newsdeck

Newsdeck

Biden Again Calls Xi a Dictator, Showing Limits of Cooperation

Biden Again Calls Xi a Dictator, Showing Limits of Cooperation
US President Joe Biden meets with China's President Xi Jinping during a virtual summit from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, November 15, 2021. Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden said he still believed his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping was a dictator, casting a shadow over what both sides had characterized as their most productive meeting to date.

At the conclusion of his press conference Wednesday, Biden responded to a question from a US journalist about whether he stood by a comment he made in June calling Xi a dictator. The remark was denounced at the time by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which called the comment “absurd” and a “provocation.”

“Well, look, he is,” Biden said Wednesday. “I mean he’s a dictator in the sense that he is the guy who runs a country which is a communist country based on a form of government totally different from ours.”

The remark could undermine gains made during four hours of talks between the Chinese and US presidents. Biden said the two countries had come to important agreements on fighting fentanyl distribution, resuming military to military communications at a senior level, and establishing an understanding where either leader could call the other directly to resolve any miscommunication.

“I believe they were some of the most constructive and productive discussions we’ve had,” Biden said.

Personal Touch

Aides described the talks as warm and personal, with Biden at one point flipping open his Apple Inc. iPhone to take Xi on a trip down memory lane.

“Do you know this young man?” Biden asked the Chinese leader, according to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, who posted the exchange on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“Oh yes,” said President Xi, according to the post. “This was 38 years ago.”

Hua posted a photograph of the two leaders smiling and looking relaxed at the country house south of San Francisco where they met. Another image in her post showed Xi in front of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge bridge in 1985, on his first public trip to America.

A US official said Xi also jokingly noted Biden, 80, has a birthday next week, and said it was a reminder that his own wife also had an upcoming celebration.

Upon meeting on Wednesday morning, Xi and Biden held each others hands in a warm public gesture that’s rare for the Chinese leader. They two men were later filmed taking a walk through the gardens of the estate south of San Francisco where they held their summit.

At the press conference, Biden complimented Xi as being forthright in their talks, while stopping short of saying he trusted the Chinese leader.

“Trust but verify, as the old saying goes, that’s where I am,” Biden said.

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck …

  • Thaabit Semaar says:

    Rich coming from sleepy Joe, so called leader of the free world, who have no regard for human rights and international law. Supporter of the slaughter and starvation of defenseless innocent palestinian women and children.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Download the Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox.

+ Your election day questions answered
+ What's different this election
+ Test yourself! Take the quiz