President Joe Biden defended his critical remarks about China, including labeling President Xi Jinping a tyrant, on Thursday, claiming that his views will not harm relations between the two countries and that he still plans to meet with Xi soon.
Biden declared that he “just isn’t going to change very much” from making direct remarks about China.
Just days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded a trip to Beijing that was intended as a first step toward repairing relations and enhancing communications, the remarks, which attracted a formal protest from China, created a new breach.
Biden wasn’t discouraged, though.
“I expect to meet with President Xi sometime in the future. And I don’t think it’s had any real consequence,” Biden said.
In a move aimed at fortifying their alliance against their common enemy, China, he most recently rebuffed China on the same afternoon that he welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House.
On Wednesday, Chinese Ambassador Xie Feng told senior White House and State Department officials that Washington “should take earnest actions to undo the negative impact” of what Biden said or “bear all the consequences.” Just hours earlier, China’s embassy in Washington claimed to have delivered a formal protest.
People “cannot help but doubt the sincerity of the U.S. side” in efforts to normalize relations in light of the most recent irresponsible remarks on China’s political system and its top leader, the embassy said in a statement.
The Chinese government and people will decisively respond to political provocations against China’s supreme leader.
At a fundraiser on Tuesday, Biden disparaged the Chinese leader, portrayed him as out of touch during the uproar over a Chinese surveillance balloon last winter, and denied that China was experiencing “real economic difficulties.”
The ambassador’s letter to the Biden administration has more significance because it is an official government-to-government exchange than the critical remarks made to reporters the day before. China did not provide any additional information regarding the ambassador’s message delivery, the consequences, or whether it expected the Biden administration to issue an apology.
In recent years, diplomatic tensions between China and the U.S. have fluctuated. China has taken various actions to express its disapproval, including severing diplomatic ties and holding military exercises off Taiwan.
Officials from the Biden administration defended Biden’s comments on Wednesday, claiming that the president has distinguished between the world’s democracies and autocracies.
On Thursday, the State Department said it does not comment on off-the-record diplomatic conversations.
At a separate news conference in Paris on Thursday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen addressed the most recent rift, stating,
“With respect to the statements, I think President Biden and I both believe it’s vital to keep communication… to clear up misperceptions, miscalculations. We must cooperate wherever possible.