China on Wednesday hit back at U.S. President Joe Biden’s recent comment that his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping was a dictator.

“It is a blatant political provocation. China expresses strong dissatisfaction and opposition,” said Mao Ning, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, at a regular press briefing, AP reported.

“The U.S. remarks are extremely absurd and irresponsible,” Mao added.

China’s response comes a day after Biden, speaking at a campaign event in California, likened Xi to a dictator when referring to the U.S. downing a Chinese spy balloon in February.

“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,” Biden said. “That was the great embarrassment for dictators, when they didn’t know what happened.”

The row is likely to complicate efforts to improve already strained Sino-American relations.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with Xi during a high-stakes trip to Beijing, which was aimed at easing mounting tensions between the two superpowers.


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