On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden reiterated that his perception of Chinese President Xi Jinping as effectively a dictator remained unchanged. This statement, delivered after the two leaders engaged in direct summit talks following months of preparation, is anticipated to have a significant impact in Beijing.
Following four hours of talks with Xi on the outskirts of San Francisco, President Biden conducted a solo news conference. Towards the conclusion of the conference, he was questioned about whether he maintained the stance he expressed in June, asserting that Xi was a dictator.
“Look, he is. He’s a dictator in the sense that he’s a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that’s based on a form of government totally different than ours,” Biden said.
In March of the previous year, Xi secured a third term as president. In an election where there was no alternative candidate, nearly 3,000 members of China’s National People’s Congress, the rubber-stamp parliament, voted unanimously in favor of him.
Xi is widely regarded as the most influential Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, having spent a decade consolidating authority in both policy-making and the military while suppressing media freedoms.
The Chinese delegation, in the United States for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, did not provide an immediate response. Meanwhile, around noon, hundreds of Beijing critics marched through the downtown area of the city, vocalizing slogans such as “free Tibet” and “free Hong Kong.”
In June, when Biden previously made a reference to Xi as a dictator, China dismissed the remarks as absurd and provocative. However, the disagreement did not hinder both sides from engaging in extensive talks with the aim of improving strained relations. This effort resulted in the meeting that took place on Wednesday.
Nevertheless, Biden’s perspective on the Communist Party remained a subject of discussion during the Wednesday meeting. According to a U.S. official who spoke with reporters after the meeting, Xi conveyed to Biden that the unfavorable views of the Communist Party in the United States were deemed unfair.