Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, expressed approval of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s reaction to President Biden referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a dictator. Mullen emphasized that name-calling at this level is unhelpful and lacks respect.
In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Mullen stated, “I think the wincing is accurate, and I actually think we need to stay away from name-calling at that level. It doesn’t help in any way. One of the things I’ve learned across the globe is people like to be treated with respect. And you need to do that, particularly at that level.”
During a recent meeting with Xi, Biden reiterated his characterization of him as a “dictator” while discussing topics such as military communication and the issue of fentanyl importation into the United States. A viral video captured Blinken’s apparent wincing in response to Biden’s remark during an impromptu moment at a press conference.
When asked if he still considered Xi a dictator, Biden responded, “Look, he is. He’s a dictator in the sense that he’s a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that is based on a form of government totally different than ours.”
China disputed Biden’s label of Xi as a dictator, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning explicitly stating that the country “strongly opposes” such comments. Biden previously referred to Xi as a dictator in June, when the Chinese president was angered by the shooting down of a Chinese spy balloon without his knowledge.
The meeting between Biden and Xi occurred amid escalating tensions between the two countries. Biden acknowledged addressing contentious issues while emphasizing areas of cooperation.
Mullen commended the meeting’s significance but cautioned that future relations could remain challenging, stating, “Well, I think it really is important because we shouldn’t underestimate how bad the relationship has been, how difficult it is not just now, but I think in the future.
So I think it’s a – the meeting was a big deal, and in particular, as we’ve talked about how bad the military-to-military communications issue was, now that it’s reestablished, to me, that’s a big accomplishment.”