US-China Summit Turns Sour as Biden Calls Xi 'Dictator', China Vows to Take Over Taiwan
Share This article
The tone was cordial, and it looked like a thaw in the brewing cold war between the US and China.
Then, after the summit, Joe Biden called the Chinese president "a dictator" and China vowed to take over Taiwan.
The summit began with the two leaders taking a much friendlier tone after months of rising tensions, with President Biden sounding optimistic.
"I believe they're some of the most constructive and productive discussions we've had," Biden said.
They agreed on a new push to crack down on the export of the deadly drug fentanyl from China to the US.
President Xi Jinping said China is ready to be a partner and friend of the United States.
China could use a friend. Foreign businesses and capital have been fleeing China at a record pace.
"Companies are increasingly seeing the writing on the wall in China," says Josh Birenbaum, deputy director of the Center on Economic and Financial Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "The environment is no longer conducive to open business. Going from a hundred billion in foreign direct investment to negative 11 billion over the last seven quarters is, is just remarkable."
The two leaders also agreed to resume military-to-military communications, after they were cut off last year following then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan.
Biden and Xi even took a stroll together through a garden at the summit site.
Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow and director of research in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, says, "There's no more important bilateral relationship on earth. My main concern is that this not head towards actual physical violence. And there are ways that it could because of all the tensions between the two sides, the kind of criticisms, the kind of names each side is using sometimes to describe the other."
Those tensions erupted when Biden, asked whether he trusts President Xi, quoted Ronald Reagan.
"'Trust but verify,' as the old saying goes. My responsibility is to make this rational and manageable, so it doesn't result in conflict," Biden said.
Things got hotter when a reporter asked the president if he would still refer to Xi as a "dictator."
Biden answered, "Well, look, he is, in that he's a dictator who runs a country that is a communist country that's based on a form of government that is completely different from ours."
The Chinese government responded swiftly and forcefully calling the "dictator" label "extremely wrong" and vowing China would be "unstoppable" in eventually retaking Taiwan, something President Biden has vowed to stand against.
Share This article