Biden calls Xi a 'dictator' after 'straightforward' meeting

While President Biden had by all appearances a cordial meeting with Xi, his stance on the Chinese leader has not changed.
President Joe Biden and China's President President Xi Jinping walk in the gardens at the Filoli Estate in California.
Posted at 7:26 AM, Nov 16, 2023

After coming to a bilateral agreement in hopes of stopping the flow of fentanyl to both countries, U.S. President Joe Biden called Chinese leader Xi Jinping a "dictator." 

The two met face-to-face at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in California on Wednesday. The meeting was designed to ease tensions between the two nations. 

But one meeting was not enough to erase decades of tensions between the two nations. 

"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," President Biden said. 

President Biden previously has called Xi a dictator, which drew anger from China, who called the comments "extremely absurd and irresponsible." 

In China, state mediacalled the meeting "positive, comprehensive and constructive." Chinese state media said from China's standpoint, the most important and most sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations is the mainland's relationship with Taiwan. 

China's president meets with 'old friends' from Iowa during US visit
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad greets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Seattle in 2015.

China's president meets with 'old friends' from Iowa during US visit

China's leader Xi Jinping has a connection to the U.S. state, having grown fond of it during an agricultural exchange there nearly 40 years ago.


The United States has not backed Taiwan's independence and respected China's "One China" policy, but has also warned of China advancing on Taiwan. 

U.S. officials stated before Wednesday's meeting that their goal is to stabilize the nations' relationship, remove areas of misunderstanding and open new lines of communication. 

When asked whether he trusts Xi, President Biden went back to one of the main objectives of the meeting.

"I think I know the man," President Biden said. "I know his modus operandi. We have disagreements. He has a different view than I have on a lot of things. But he's been straight. I don't mean that he’s good, bad, or indifferent. He’s just been straight.

As I said, the thing that I find most assuring is he raised, and I fully agree that if either one of us have any concern about anything between our nations or happening in our region, we should pick up the phone and then call one another, and we'll take the call. That's an important progress."

One example of how these lines of communication broke down was earlier this year when U.S. officials said a spy balloon originating from China drifted across U.S. airspace. The balloon was eventually shot down off the South Carolina coast once it posed no threat to those on the ground. 

The balloon incident caused Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel his trip to China.