Joe Biden calls Xi Jinping a ‘dictator’ hours after ‘constructive’ meeting
In a major effort to thaw the ties, U.S. President Joe Biden and China's Xi Jinping had their first face-to-face meeting in a year on Wednesday. The two world leaders vowed to stabilize their fraught relationship by showcasing modest agreements and combat illegal fentanyl and re-establish military communications.
In one of the biggest takeaways from the meeting the they have agreed that, if either man had a concern, “we should pick up the phone and call one another and we'll take the call. That's important progress," Biden said in a news conference following the talks.
Biden and Xi spent four hours together at a bucolic Northern California estate – in meetings, a working lunch and a garden stroll. The intent was to show the world that while they are global economic competitors they're not locked in a winner-take-all faceoff.
"We're back to direct, open, clear, direct communications," Biden said. "Vital miscalculations on either side can cause real, real trouble with a country like China or any other major country," Biden stated as he went on to characterized the talks with Xi as “some of the most constructive and productive discussions we've had.”
However, later he reiterated his views on Xi and called him a "dictator" just hours after the two leader met for a summit. During the news conference he was asked, if the president would still describe Xi as a dictator as he has in the past, Biden said: "Well look, he is."
"He is a dictator in the sense that he is a guy who runs a country that is communist," Biden said, adding that the Chinese government “is totally different than ours.”
Earlier he even told Xi, “I think it's paramount that you and I understand each other clearly, leader-to-leader, with no misconceptions or miscommunications. We have to ensure competition does not veer into conflict.”
The crucial meeting on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, comes at an important juncture as the world is grappling with economic cross currents, conflicts in the Middle East and Europe, tensions in Taiwan and more
They reached expected agreements to curb illicit fentanyl production and to reopen military ties, Biden said. Many of the chemicals used to make synthetic fentanyl come from China to cartels that traffic the powerful narcotic into the U.S., which is facing an overdose crisis.