BEIJING (AP) — China on Wednesday called comments by President Joe Biden calling Chinese leader Xi Jinping a dictator “extremely absurd and irresponsible.”
A little more than a day later, a new battle of words ensued Foreign Minister Antony Blinken concluded his visit to Beijing trying to break the ice in a relationship that has hit an all-time low.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said Biden’s remarks at a fundraiser in California were “completely at odds with the facts, seriously violate diplomatic protocol and gravely violate China’s political dignity.”
“It’s an obvious political provocation. “China is expressing great dissatisfaction and opposition,” Mao said at a daily briefing.
“The statements made by the US are extremely absurd and irresponsible,” Mao said.
Blinken’s visit, during which he met with Xi, was aimed at defusing tensions between the two superpowers but has not appeared to have yielded solid results.
Biden said at the fundraiser Tuesday night local time that Xi was embarrassed by recent tensions surrounding a suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down by the Air Force over the east coast.
“This is a great embarrassment for dictators. When they didn’t know what was happening,” Biden said.
Mao repeated China’s claim that the balloon was intended for meteorological research and accidentally went off course.
“The US should have dealt with it calmly and professionally,” she said. “However, the US distorted the facts and used violence to exaggerate the incident, fully revealing the character of harassment and hegemony.”
Blinken’s visit was originally scheduled for February but was put on hold after the balloon accident. While this marked a return to high-level contacts between the sides, China continues to refuse talks between its military officials.
In recent days, the US said Chinese warplanes and naval vessels had maneuvered in a menacing manner towards their US counterparts in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, despite agreements between them on protocols to avoid such incidents.
During Blinken’s visit, China reiterated its strong objections to US support for the self-governing island democracy of Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory. The US has also sought to block Beijing’s access to cutting-edge computer chip-making technology that could be used for military purposes, accusing China of stealing American intellectual property.
After meeting Xi on Monday, Blinken acknowledged deep-rooted differences. “We are under no illusions about the challenges of managing this relationship. “There are many issues on which we deeply or even vehemently disagree,” he said.