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Biden Calls Xi a Dictator After US-China Talks

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President’s comments come a day after US State Secretary Antony Blinken concluded talks in Beijing

President Joe Biden called Chinese leader Xi Jinping a “dictator” on Tuesday while recalling the spy balloon incident after State Secretary Antony Blinken concluded his visit to Beijing to stabilize U.S.-China ties.

Biden said the recent incident with the Chinese spy balloon, which was shot down by the U.S. military after being blown off course over the United States, had caused “great embarrassment” for Xi.

“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,” Biden said at a fundraiser event in California.

“That’s a great embarrassment for dictators. When they didn’t know what happened. That wasn’t supposed to be going where it was. It was blown off course,” he added.

Beijing Talks

His comments came just a day after Blinken and Xi had a “robust conversation” in Beijing on June 19, during which both sides agreed on the need to stabilize the tense relations between the two powers.

Xi pronounced himself satisfied with the progress made during the two days of talks between the top U.S. and Chinese diplomats, but Blinken said the Chinese communist regime refused to resume bilateral exchanges at the military level.

Epoch Times Photo
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with China’s leader Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 19, 2023. (Leah Millis/AFP via Getty Images)

Blinken told NBC News ahead of his visit that his meetings in Beijing would be “an important start” toward restoring stability in U.S.-China relations and that it was time to move past the spy balloon incident.

“That chapter should be closed,” he told the news outlet on June 19. Blinken is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Beijing since Biden took office in 2021.

Blinken was supposed to visit Beijing in February but the visit was postponed after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was detected flying over the continental United States.

The balloon was sighted over Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Venezuela. Beijing had claimed both that balloon and the one the United States shot down off the South Carolina coast on Feb. 4 were non-military assets that deviated from their original course.

U.S. officials have described the balloons as spying tools aiding the Chinese regime’s global surveillance program, which they said has spanned across five continents.

Spy balloon
Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Feb. 5, 2023. (U.S. Navy via AP)

China Rejects Resuming Military Hotline

Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime has refused to resume direct military communication with the United States despite Blinken’s “repeated” efforts to raise the issue during his two-day trip.

Blinken told reporters at a press conference that “at this moment, China has not agreed to move forward with that.”

“I think that’s an issue that we have to keep working on,” the U.S. diplomat said on June 19. “It is very important that we restore those channels.”

As bilateral tensions keep rising, Beijing has resisted a consistent U.S. push to open up lines of communication to mitigate the risk of a potential flare-up.

Since 2021, China’s leaders have declined or ignored more than a dozen requests to talk with the Pentagon and about 10 working-level engagement invitations from the U.S. side, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed senior U.S. defense official.

That includes in February after a U.S. military jet shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon traversing the United States.

Retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said the CCP may use the military communication channel “as a bargaining chip to get more concessions from the Biden administration.”

“We’re the ones that are asking for it, and quite frankly, the only one that’s going to make any kind of military decision is Xi Jinping himself,” he told Epoch Times sister outlet NTD.

“Essentially, I think we’re going for something that the Chinese don’t really care about, and so therefore, they’re holding it out as a bargaining chip for something they do care about.”

Eva Fu contributed to this report.

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