China has lashed out at Germany after its foreign minister described Xi Jinping as a “dictator”, stating that the remarks are “an open political provocation”, CNN reported.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, when asked about Russia’s war on Ukraine in a television interview with Fox News during her visit to the United States last week, said, “If Putin were to win this war, what sign would that be for other dictators in the world, like Xi, like the Chinese president?”
The remarks did not go down well as China summoned Germany’s ambassador to China Patricia Flor on Sunday (September 17) for a dressing down, which is seen as the latest soaring of tensions with a western democratic power over the description of the Chinese President, according to CNN.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry “firmly opposed” the German foreign minister’s remark stating that Beijing was “strongly dissatisfied” with it.
“The remarks made by Germany are extremely absurd, seriously infringe on China’s political dignity, and are an open political provocation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a regular news briefing on Monday.
Interestingly, the question regarding the German minister’s remarks and the Chinese official’s response were missing from the briefing’s official transcript which was uploaded later to the ministry’s website. The Chinese
Foreign Ministry often skips the content it deems sensitive from the transcripts of the regular briefings, according to CNN.
Moreover, this is not the first time that China has displayed sensitivity towards foreign leaders’ reference to Xi Jinping who is the country’s most assertive leader in a generation, CNN reported.
Notably, US President Joe Biden also referred to Xi as a “dictator” back in June, triggering a protest by Beijing in which its Foreign Ministry said they (Biden’s remarks) “seriously contradict basic facts and seriously violate diplomatic etiquette”.
Jiang Zemin, Xi’s predecessor in 2000 had objected to being called a “dictator” in a conversation with American journalist Mike Wallace on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
“You mean I’m a dictatorship?” Jiang replied in English and called it “a big mistake,” according to CNN.
“Very frankly speaking, I don’t agree with your point I’m a dictator. Your way of describing what things are like in China is as absurd as what the Arabian Nights may sound like,” CNN quoted him as saying.
Germany’s relations with China
Germany’s relations with Beijing were strained due to the latter’s refusal to condemn Russia’s war against Ukraine, and its increasing partnership with Moscow and its military threat to Taiwan, CNN reported.
However, Germany has attempted to reset its relations with China while also trying to lessen its economic dependence on Beijing.