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US President Calls Chinese President Xi a ‘Dictator’

President Joe Biden referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “dictator” on Tuesday, setting off a furious response from Beijing in a startling escalation following discussions between the two countries to reduce their geopolitical hostility.

Biden also said Xi was very embarrassed when a suspected Chinese spy balloon was blown off course over U.S. airspace early this year, making a personal comment on the Chinese leader when Blinken said on Monday that the “chapter” should be closed.

According to Reuters, Biden’s remarks about Xi, who has become the Communist Party’s supreme leader and China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, came after Xi was elected to a record-breaking third term as president.

“The reason Xi Jinping got very upset when I shot that balloon down with two box cars full of spy equipment in it was he did not know it was there,” Biden said at a fundraiser in California.

“That is a great embarrassment for dictators. When they did not know what had happened, that was not supposed to go where it was. It was blown off course,” Biden added.

Biden also said China “has real economic difficulties.”

Although Blinken’s visit was generally regarded as a success — Biden said at the fundraiser that his secretary of state did “a good job” — China and the U.S. have yet to restore several military communication channels that were severed after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, a self-governing island off China’s coast that Beijing claims as its territory. The meeting resulted in nothing new other than the agreement the parties required to mend their friendship.

They did agree to keep up the diplomatic exchanges by inviting more U.S. officials to visit in the upcoming days and weeks. Later on Tuesday, Biden mentioned the possibility of John Kerry visiting China shortly.

On Monday, Biden stated that he believed the two countries’ relations were headed in the right direction and that Blinken’s visit had resulted in progress.