Blinken says to expect candid talk after Biden calls China’s Xi a ‘dictator’

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SAN FRANCISCO – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that China should expect candid statements it dislikes after US President Joe Biden called his counterpart Xi Jinping a “dictator” moments after meeting him.

Mr Blinken, known for his reserve and self-control, was caught on camera appearing to wince slightly at Mr Biden’s response during a news conference following the summit near San Francisco on Wednesday.

Asked in an interview about his response, Mr Blinken, an adviser to Mr Biden for decades, said: “The president always speaks candidly and he speaks for all of us.”

“Look, it’s clear that we will continue to say things and continue to do things that China doesn’t like, just as I assume that they will continue to do and say things that we don’t like,” he told CBS News.

Mr Blinken had travelled to China in June in one of a series of meetings seeking to ease tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

Just a day after Mr Biden met Mr Xi in San Francisco, Mr Biden, at a political event in California, called the Chinese leader a “dictator,” drawing a rebuke from China.

Asked by a reporter on Wednesday if he stood by his assessment, Mr Biden had said: “Well look, he is. I mean he’s a dictator in the sense that he’s a guy who’s running a country, a Communist country, that’s based on a form of government totally different than ours.”

Asked about Mr Biden’s latest remarks, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said: “This kind of speech is extremely wrong and is irresponsible political manipulation. China firmly opposes it.” AFP

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