President Joe Biden gave a near-comedic speech lambasting Chinese President Xi Jinping just one day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the leader in China seeking to thaw relations between the countries.
The speech was in stark contrast to comments Biden made the day of Blinken’s trip, defending the Chinese government and playing down the spy balloon incident that became national headlines and delayed Blinken’s originally scheduled visit.
Biden was speaking to a group of about 130 donors at a fundraising event in Kentfield, California when he said, “The reason why Xi Jinping got very upset in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two box cars full of spy equipment is he didn’t know it was there.”
Following some laughter from the crowd, he went on, “No, I’m serious. That was the great embarrassment for dictators, when they didn’t know what happened.”
“That wasn’t supposed to be going where it was. It was blown off course up through Alaska and then down through the United States and he didn’t know about it. When it got shot down, he was very embarrassed and he denied it was even there,” Biden added.
He then assured the gathering of donors that China is no threat.
“By the way, I promise you, don’t worry about China. Worry about China but don’t worry about China. I really mean it. China has real economic difficulties,” Biden said.
Next Steps for US-China Relationship
Blinken returned from China after meeting with Xi, who agreed to allow other US officials into the country to continue diplomatic engagement.
At a separate campaign event on Tuesday, Biden told a group of donors in San Francisco that climate advisor John Kerry would be traveling next.
“I think John Kerry’s going to be going back there pretty soon,” Biden said, referencing a discussion he’d had with Xi about energy production and methane gas emissions.