President Biden has had his fair share of blunders over the years, and has even been mocked for his stutter - something that he thinks of as an incredible ‘asset’. During a recent meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Biden made a comment about Xi’s wife which led to a moment of awkwardness.
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The meeting happened on Wednesday 15 November at a mansion near San Francisco, on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference which both Xi and Biden were attending in the city. Here’s what Biden said that ‘embarrassed’ the Chinese leader and how their official meeting went.
How Biden ‘embarrassed’ Xi Jinping
Aside from their official meeting, Biden and Xi spent some more casual moments together just outside of San Francisco. They shared a lunch with top advisors and went walking in the grounds of the estate where their meeting took place.
It was presumably during one of these moments that Biden wished Xi’s wife a happy birthday. The conversation has since been revealed by AFP correspondent Shaun Tandon. Tandon wrote on X:
Biden winning with Xi's wife. From U.S. official, per pool note: 'Biden wished Xi's wife a happy birthday - (she) and Biden share the same birthday. Xi said he was embarrassed, had been working so hard and had forgotten that his wife's birthday was next week.
Thankfully for both Biden and Xi, the Chinese leader was reportedly grateful for the reminder - and presumably had time to send flowers for his wife. Xi has been married to folksinger Peng Liyuan since 1987, and she will turn 61 on 20 November. Biden will turn 81 on the same day.
What happened during the meeting
Wednesday’s meeting came amid heightened tensions between the US and China as the countries have dealt with continuous clashes over trade, human rights and territorial disputes involving Taiwan and the South China Sea.
As Newsweek summarises:
The Chinese premier has repeatedly vowed to bring about the 'reunification' of Taiwan, a self-governing democracy with over 23 million citizens, with mainland China.
In September 2022, Biden told CBS the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese invasion, though the White House later insisted there had been no change from America's longstanding policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ over the issue.
However, after the meeting Biden said that both parties had agreed to resume direct military communication and called the talks ‘some of the most constructive and productive discussions we've had’:
We've made some important progress.
And Peng Liyuan will get her birthday wishes from her husband, so it looks like a double whammy of happy outcomes was achieved in San Fran this week.
Express: Xi Jinping left 'embarrassed' by Joe Biden's comment about his wife during Taiwan meeting
Newsweek: Joe Biden Embarrasses Xi Jinping in Exchange About China's First Lady