Joe Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for talks in San Francisco. Beijing and Washington described the conversation between the leaders as “productive” and important. After the summit, Biden called his Chinese counterpart a “dictator” – again.
During the summit between Biden and Xi, the leaders agreed to resume military-to-military communications once China appoints a new defense minister. The former Chinese defense minister had not spoken with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin because as he was under sanctions by Washington. The leaders also agreed to attempt to curb fentanyl trafficking.
Biden described the talks as “some of the most constructive and productive discussions we’ve had.” He added that Xi will be “willing to pick up the phone” in the future. A press release from the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the summit was “positive, comprehensive and constructive. It has charted the course for improving and developing China-US relations.” It added, “San Francisco should be a new starting point for stabilizing China-US relations.”
Xi told Biden that there are two paths forward for the Washington-Beijing relationship. According to the Foreign Ministry, “Xi noted that China and the US are faced with two options in the era of global transformations unseen in a century:” The press release continues, “One is to enhance solidarity and cooperation and join hands to meet global challenges and promote global security and prosperity; and the other is to cling to the zero-sum mentality, provoke rivalry and confrontation, and drive the world toward turmoil and division.”
The release added, “The two choices point to two different directions that will decide the future of humanity and Planet Earth.” Both Biden and Xi acknowledged that the US-Chinese relationship is the most important on the planet.
While Biden focused on increasing communications and curbing fentanyl trafficking, Xi stressed to the American president the importance of the Taiwan issue. In the Foreign Ministry release, Xi explained “China’s principled position on the Taiwan question. [Xi] pointed out that the Taiwan question remains the most important and most sensitive issue in China-US relations. The US 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.”
Since taking office, Biden has boosted US relations with Taiwan, increasing weapons sales and even deploying American troops to the island to train local forces.
In an overture to show Beijing’s commitment to a new relationship moving forward, Xi said China would send more pandas to the US. Beijing views the Giant Panda as China’s national symbol and works to ensure Pandas in captivity are healthy. Xi said the Pandas will “deepen the friendly ties between our two peoples.”
In a press conference after the summit, Biden slammed the Chinese president as a “dictator.” In response to a reporter asking the president if he thought his Chinese counterpart was a dictator, Biden said of Xi, “I mean, he’s a dictator in the sense that he is a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that is based on a form of government totally different than ours.” He continued, “Anyway, we made progress.” Video of Secretary of State Antony Blinken shows America’s top diplomat wincing as Biden made the blunder.
It was not the first time the US leader described his Chinese counterpart with the term, having labeled Xi a ”dictator” earlier this year, just one day after Blinken held high-level talks in China’s capital.
Beijing said that the description of Xi as a dictator was incorrect, but attempted to downplay the incident. Mao Ning, a Chinese government spokeswoman, said China “strongly opposes” the “dictator” accusation, but added that “It should be pointed out that there will always be some people with ulterior motives who attempt to incite and damage US-China relations, they are doomed to fail.”
This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.