Mullen on Blinken's reaction to Biden calling Xi a dictator: 'Wincing is accurate'


Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s reaction to President Biden calling Chinese President Xi Jinping a dictator was “accurate,” adding that the president should not be calling Xi any names. 

“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,” Mullen said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Biden once again called Xi a “dictator” last week after meeting with the Chinese leader for hours, in which he said they made agreements on resuming military to military communication and dealing with the influx of fentanyl into the U.S. A video circulating on social media showed Blinken reacting to the remarks, where he appears to wince at Biden’s off-the-cuff response to a question as he was exiting a press conference. 

“Look, he is,” Biden said when asked if he would still refer to Xi as a dictator. “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 pushed back on Biden calling Xi a dictator last week, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning telling reporters Thursday it “strongly opposes” the comments. Biden previously called Xi a dictator who got upset when the Chinese spy balloon was shot down in February because he didn’t know about it. in June. 

The meeting came as tensions between China and the U.S. have been rising for months. Biden said that  he was “blunt” with Xi on some of the more fraught issues between the two countries while still boasting about other areas of cooperation with Xi. 

Mullen praised Biden for the meeting in California last week but warned that the relationship between the two countries could still be “difficult” in the future. 

“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,” he said.

“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 re-established, to me, that’s a big accomplishment,” he added. 

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