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Biden Calls Xi a Foolish Dictator After Blinken’s Diplomatic Efforts

It's unclear if the President's comments will assist with the International Rules Based Order's new policy of "de-risking" rather than "decoupling."
Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: June 23, 2023
Joe Biden called Xi Jinping a Dictator after Antony Blinken went to Beijing
A file photo of President Joe Biden on June 16, 2023, in Maryland. After Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Biden told a campaign fundraiser in California that Xi didn’t know his own country sent the January “spy balloon” to America, calling it “a great embarrassment for dictators.” (Image: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. President Joe Biden has called Chinese President and leader of its ruling Communist Party Xi Jinping a dictator who is unaware of his country’s own intelligence operations.

The comments come with notable timing as Secretary of State Antony Blinken had just met with Xi in Beijing and NATO member Germany received Premier Li Qiang in his first trip outside of China since the Xi administration was granted a third term of power last year.

Biden’s remarks were reported by CNBC on June 20 in an article that stated the Commander-In-Chief made comments at a fundraiser for his 2024 re-election campaign bid in California that Xi did not know his own country’s intelligence apparatus had deployed the January “spy balloon” saga.

“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 is he didn’t know it was there,” he said.


Biden continued, “That’s a great embarrassment for dictators…when they didn’t know what happened.”

Government members as high ranking as California Governor Gavin Newsom were in attendance

The President doubled down on his comments, stating, “When it got shot down, he (Xi) was very embarrassed and he denied it was even there,” CNBC said, noting the comments were not recanted at a secondary fundraising event.

The Guardian reported on June 23 that during a press conference with President of India, Narendra Modi, Biden backed his statements, “The idea of my choosing and avoiding saying what I think is the facts with regard to the relationship with… China is just not something I am going to change very much.”

“I expect to be meeting with President Xi sometime in the future, near-term. And I don’t think it’s had any real consequence,” Biden continued.

After Blinken met with Xi, CCP tabloid Global Times framed the event as one which “opened up a window for pragmatic engagements between the two sides.”

Biden’s commentary came in significant contrast to comments he made after Blinken’s trip on June 19 cited by Reuters, where the President said of relations between the two countries, “We’re on the right trail here,” adding that Blinken, “Did a hell of a job.”

Following the meeting on June 20, South China Morning Post cited experts who posited that the ostensibly amicable diplomacy between Blinken and Xi might “pave the way for a Xi-Biden meeting and a thaw in trade ties” during the November Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

Although Global Times has not published any commentary on Biden’s dictator comments, SCMP published multiple takes indicative of the sentiment.

One piece, titled As China Hits Back at ‘Ridiculous’ Joe Biden Comments On Xi Jinping, Bilateral Ties Too Feeble To Weaken Further, Analysts Say cited a number of pro-Beijing analysts who remarked on a handful of the more relatively tame Biden gaffes.

The outlet also published a second less-objective opinion piece titled Talking Off The Cuff For Ageing Biden Is Getting Too Dangerous For The World where columnist Alex Lo quipped, “The US president’s foggy mind and unsteady feet mean retirement is a more humane option than running for a second term.”

Comments from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy in Washington were predictably bombastic and thick with CCP rhetorical jargon, such as, “The Chinese government and people do not accept any political provocation against China’s top leader and will resolutely respond,” Al Jazeera reported.

Although Biden’s commentary may be of no real world significance, it is worth noting that in March of 2021, less than a year before the Ukraine War broke out, Biden called Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin a “killer” during an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopolous.

Stephanopolous asked Biden, “So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he’s a killer?” to which the President replied, “Uh-huh. I do.”

The verbal warfare was paving the way for comments on an assessment by the new administration’s Intelligence Community on the 2020 Federal Election, which claimed that Russia was responsible for election influence during the campaign.

Biden was asked, “So what price must he [Putin] pay?”

The response: “The price he’s gonna pay we’ll– you’ll see shortly…He’s been — they’ve done some mischievous things, to say the least. And so we’re gonna have — I’m not gonna announce what I’m doing, but he’s gonna understand that…it’s not free.”

Russia recalled its Ambassador in response.

When Russian state media TASS asked Putin about Biden’s comments, Putin responded, “As far as statements by my U.S. counterpart are concerned. What would I say to him in response? I would tell him: ‘Be healthy!’ I wish him good health.”

Putin challenged Biden to a live debate over the gaffe, which never transpired.

The IC’s assessment on Russian influence in the election does not carry the most reliable of track records.

In January, after Elon Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter and “the Twitter Files,” company communications and documents conducted under the previous management and ownership provided to indie media to create twitter threads to drive engagement, journalists found evidence contrary to a similar narrative espoused after Trump’s 2016 victory.

In one thread, journalist Matt Taibbi chronicled a 2017 endeavor by Democrat Senator Mark Warner, a then-member of the Senate Intelligence Committee (Warner became Chairman of the Committee in February of 2021), to pressure Twitter to produce evidence that Russia had influenced the 2016 Presidential Election.

In response, Twitter formed a “Russia Task Force” to investigate. However, in the end, the Task Force was only able to find 15 accounts that had “connections with Russia,” one of which was state media outlet Russia Today.

Only two of the accounts spent more than $10,000 on Twitter advertising, of which RT was one.

Late June 22 reporting by CNBC on Biden’s comments appears to take a step towards deescalation. 

The outlet quoted the President as adding during the press conference with Modi, “I’ve said this for some time — that the hysteria about the relationship with China is collapsing and moving, etc, etc. We had an incident that caused some — some confusion, you might say.”

Biden added, “But Secretary Blinken had a great trip to China. I expect to be meeting with President Xi sometime in the future, in the near term.”