Blinken explains his reaction to Biden calling Xi a 'dictator'

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After President Joe Biden again called Chinese leader Xi Jinping a “dictator” last month, a clip of Secretary of State Antony Blinken appearing to wince at the blunt remark immediately went viral.

When asked about the moment on CNN's “King Charles,” Blinken chuckled and gave a light-hearted excuse for his reaction.

“I’m tempted to say that we’d had a really long day, a very important and intense conversation with China. My neck was a little bit stiff. And, you know, that happens,” he told hosts Gayle King and Charles Barkley in a portion of the interview that aired Thursday.

Any sarcasm aside, Blinken acknowledged the tension between the two nations.

“But look, as I said before, it’s not exactly a secret that we have a very different system from China’s. The president always speaks very clearly, very directly, and he speaks for everyone,” he said.

Biden’s remarks on Nov. 15 followed a meeting with Xi on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, aimed at calming fears over the U.S. and China drifting toward military conflict in the Indo-Pacific.

Doubling down on his characterization of Xi earlier this year, Biden told reporters that “he’s a dictator in the sense that he’s a guy who runs a country that is a communist country.”

The next day, China’s foreign ministry denounced the president’s remark: “This statement is extremely wrong and irresponsible political manipulation,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters on Thursday, according to Reuters.