The two sides met in San Francisco in their first face-to-face meeting in a year.
WOODSIDE, Calif.—President Joe Biden has again called China’s communist party leader Xi Jinping a dictator after their second face-to-face meeting that ended with the two countries addressing a set of contentious issues, including Chinese military aggression, fentanyl, and Taiwan.
“After today, would you still refer to President Xi as a dictator, the term that you used earlier this year?” a reporter asked the president during a press conference after the meeting.
“Well, look, he is,” President Biden replied. “I mean he’s a dictator in the sense that he is the guy who runs a country which is a communist country based on a form of government totally different from ours.”
The remarks came after a roughly two-hour long meeting at the secluded historic estate about half an hour south of San Francisco. The two spoke of their first interaction over a decade ago before heading into a closed-door meeting, with the U.S. side making clear that their goal was to stabilize the tumultuous bilateral relations rather than a complete reset.
The two sides agreed to restore military contacts that China cut off in August 2022 following the then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, as well as communications on the senior level.
“We’re back to direct, open, clear direct communication on a direct basis,” President Biden said at a late afternoon press conference. “He and I agreed that each one of us can pick up the phone call directly and we’ll be heard immediately.”
Aside from getting a Chinese commitment to stop the outflow of fentanyl precursors, President Biden said he also raised issues such as U.S. citizens barred from leaving China, human rights, China’s “corrective activities” in the South China Sea, and peace and stability around Taiwan Strait. They also exchanged views on Ukraine and the Gaza conflict, the president said.
The high-stakes meeting on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit was the second time the two met each other face-to-face during the Biden administration. Their previous in-person engagement happened during the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last November.
Chinese state media have struck a positive tone toward the United States during the summit. The coverage focused on ties with the United States and bilateral agreements reached during the meeting.
A senior administration official, during a background briefing on Nov. 14, said that they had “come into this meeting with a high degree of confidence.”
Human Rights Protests
The summit has drawn a diverse group of activists to San Francisco who were determined to spotlight the human rights abuses in China.
One of them was Cruz Fairfield, an 18-year-old from Central Valley, California and a second generation American.
“Everybody in our media, including my own president, calls the dictator of China a president. China does not have a president, China has a dictator,” Mr. Fairfield told The Epoch Times before the meeting between the two leaders.
Mr. Fairfield, protesting outside the summit venue, held a sign reading “China has concentration camps.”
“I’m just here to spread awareness,” he said. He hopes that when people think of an economic summit, they think I don’t want to buy Chinese-made products.
President Biden has previously used the word dictator to describe Mr. Xi. In June, while recalling the spy balloon incident after Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded his high-profile visit to China, President Biden said the balloon’s takedown had upset the communist leader because he “didn’t know it was there.”
A number of Republican lawmakers have called on the administration to “bring concrete deliverables” rather than concessions ahead of the bilateral meeting.