Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, commended Secretary of State Antony Blinken for his reaction to President Biden’s characterization of Chinese President Xi Jinping as a dictator.
Mullen believes that Blinken’s wincing response accurately captured the sentiment that name-calling should be avoided at the highest levels of diplomacy. Mullen stated, “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 once again referred to him as a dictator while discussing agreements made regarding military communication and the flow of fentanyl into the United States.
A video of Blinken reacting to Biden’s comment circulated on social media, showing him wincing as Biden responded to a question. When asked if he would continue to label Xi as a dictator, Biden replied, “Look, he is. He’s a dictator in the sense that he runs a communist country with a government structure different from ours.”
China has expressed opposition to Biden’s characterization of Xi as a dictator. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning stated that China “strongly opposes” these comments. This is not the first time Biden has used this term to describe Xi Jinping; he previously used it in June when Xi was upset over a downed Chinese spy balloon.
The meeting between Biden and Xi took place amid escalating tensions between China and the United States. While Biden claimed to have been frank with Xi about various contentious issues, he also highlighted areas of cooperation.
Mullen praised the meeting in California but warned that the relationship between the two countries may continue to pose challenges. He emphasized the significance of reestablishing military-to-military communication, describing it as a significant accomplishment.