US President Joe Biden has stepped up his criticism of Chinese leaders, stating that the Chinese government is controlled by “bad folks” who may resort to dangerous actions as their economy faces imminent collapse. Speaking at a fundraising event in Park City, Utah, on Thursday, Biden expressed his belief that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government is in trouble due to Beijing’s economic problems, which he referred to as a “ticking time bomb.” Several media reports have confirmed his remarks, where he also made several inaccurate claims about China’s economy and demographics.
Biden told his supporters, “They got some problems. That’s not good because when bad folks have problems, they do bad things.” However, his statements regarding the Chinese economy have been disputed. He falsely claimed that China has the highest unemployment rate, even as data shows that China’s unemployment rate is around 5.2%, lower than that of the Eurozone, Spain, and Greece. He further mocked Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative, likening it to a “debt and noose,” alluding to the loans China provides to developing nations.
This is not the first time Biden has made controversial remarks about Xi and the Chinese government. In June, he referred to Xi as a “dictator” during a similar political event, which led to formal complaints from Chinese officials in Washington, who labeled it a “political provocation.” However, Biden dismissed the controversy, stating that he didn’t believe there would be any real consequences.
While Biden emphasized his desire for a rational relationship with China and his intention not to harm the country, he stated that he is closely monitoring the situation. Although he did not specify which actions he finds concerning, tensions between the US and China over Taiwan have escalated in recent times.
In terms of economic growth, Biden asserted that China’s growth has slowed down to 2%, while Chinese GDP actually rose at a 5.5% pace in the first half of this year. In comparison, the US rate stood at around 2.2%. While Western economies are grappling with historically high levels of inflation, China is facing deflation.
These fiery remarks from Biden come at a time when his administration is attempting to improve strained relations between the US and China. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent visit to China was supposed to facilitate diplomatic dialogue, followed by visits from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and US climate envoy John Kerry. However, Biden’s derogatory language towards Xi’s government could potentially hinder ongoing efforts at collaboration.
The fundraising event took place at the residence of Mark Gilbert, a former US ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. Attendees reportedly had to pay a minimum of $3,300 to participate, with hosts contributing $100,000 and guests willing to pay at least $50,000 given the opportunity to engage in a conversation with Biden and have their picture taken with him. Those who paid $10,000 to $25,000 were eligible for a photograph with the President.
While Biden’s comments reflect his concerns about the Chinese economy and leadership, it remains to be seen how they will impact bilateral relations and ongoing diplomatic efforts between the US and China.