Biden calls Xi a dictator after carefully planned summit

US President Joe Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Woodside

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Filoli Estate on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Woodside, California, U.S., November 15, 2023. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque License Rights Acquire

WOODSIDE, Calif., Nov 15 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he had not changed his view that Chinese President Xi Jinping was effectively a dictator, a comment likely to land with a bang in Beijing, after the two leaders held a straightforward summit. conversations.

Biden held a solo press conference after four hours of talks with Xi on the outskirts of San Francisco. At the end of the press conference, he was asked if he still held the view that Xi was a dictator, something he said in June.

“Look, he is. He’s a dictator in the sense that he’s a guy who’s running a country that’s a communist country that’s based on a form of government that’s completely different from ours,” Biden said.

In response, China’s foreign ministry said it “strongly opposes” the remarks, without mentioning Biden by name.

“This statement is extremely wrong and irresponsible political manipulation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning told reporters Thursday at a routine briefing.

“It should be pointed out that there will always be some people with ulterior motives who try to inflame and damage US-China relations, they are doomed to fail.”

Mao declined to specify the identity of “some people” in response to a follow-up question.

Last March, Xi won a third term as president when nearly 3,000 members of China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, voted unanimously for him in an election in which there was no other candidate.

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Xi is considered the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, after a decade of consolidating power in policymaking and the military and stifling media freedom.

There was no immediate reaction from the Chinese delegation, which had come to the United States to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in San Francisco. Hundreds of critics of Beijing marched through the city center around midday, chanting “free Tibet” and “free Hong Kong”.

When Biden referred to a similar dictator in June, China called the remarks absurd and a provocation. But the row did not stop the two sides from holding extensive talks aimed at improving strained relations, which culminated in Wednesday’s meeting.

Written by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Laurie Chen in Beijing; Editing by Heather Timmons, Stephen Coates and Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Jeff Mason is a White House correspondent for Reuters. He has covered the presidencies of Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden and the presidential campaigns of Biden, Trump, Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. He served as president of the White House Correspondents’ Association in 2016-2017, where he led the press corps in advocating for press freedom in the early days of the Trump administration. His and the WHCA’s work was recognized with the Deutsche Welles “Freedom of Speech Award”. Jeff has asked pointed questions of domestic and foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. He is the winner of the WHCA’s “Excellence in Presidential News Coverage Under Deadline Pressure” award and co-winner of the Association for Business Journalists’ “Breaking News” award. Jeff began his career in Frankfurt, Germany as a business reporter before being seconded to Brussels, Belgium, where he covered the European Union. Jeff appears regularly on television and radio and teaches political journalism at Georgetown University. He is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a former Fulbright scholar.

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