The move by the Chinese government signals another low point for relations between the U.S. and China and comes following Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Beijing earlier this week.
The Chinese government issued a démarche against Ambassador Nicholas Burns in Beijing, an official reprimand, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing three U.S. officials who said the rebuke was done quietly in an effort to preserve progress on Blinken’s trip and avoid repeating accusations against Xi as a dictator.
The secretary’s two-day visit in Beijing was aimed at stabilizing U.S. ties with China that had dramatically frayed amid a series of crises and deep-seated mistrust, with U.S. officials touting small progress in righting the relationship and laying the groundwork for more face-to-face talks.
Biden on Thursday dismissed that his remarks undermined the efforts to improve relations with China and doubled-down that his referencing Xi as a dictator represented “facts.”
“The idea of my choosing and avoiding saying what I think is the facts, with regard to the relationship… with China, is just not something I’m going to change very much,” he said in response to a reporter’s question during a press conference alongside Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The president said he expects to meet with Xi “sometime in the future, in the near term,” and that the diplomatic fallout has not “had any real consequence,” referring to it as “hysteria.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry had earlier reacted with anger in the aftermath of Biden’s remarks. The president, at a political fundraiser Tuesday in California, described to donors that Xi was caught off guard when the U.S. discovered and shot down a Chinese spy balloon traversing the U.S. in February and said that “the great embarrassment for dictators” is when they are unaware.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning called the remarks “extremely absurd and irresponsible.”
Mao said Biden’s remarks “go totally against facts and seriously violate diplomatic protocol, and severely infringe on China’s political dignity,” and added that “it is a blatant political provocation.”