BEIJING — Beijing on Thursday condemned US President Joe Biden's comments that Chinese leader Xi Jinping faced "enormous problems", saying the remarks were "extremely irresponsible".
In an interview with PBS NewsHour, Biden said Wednesday that China was constrained in its ability to confront the United States by the need to protect international trade, and that Xi himself is in an unenviable position.
China hit back at the remarks Thursday, with foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning telling a regular briefing that Beijing was "strongly dissatisfied".
"This type of rhetoric from the US is extremely irresponsible and runs counter to basic diplomatic etiquette," Mao said, adding that Beijing "firmly opposed this".
After a brief warming after a November G20 meeting between Biden and Xi, US-China relations have cooled following the appearance of a high-altitude Chinese balloon over the US, which the US Air Force shot down on Saturday.
The US has alleged the balloon was intended for espionage -- claims China has denied, arguing it was a weather observation device that blew off course.
In his interview Wednesday, Biden defended the decision to shoot down the craft and stressed that the US is not looking for conflict with China.
But he also said Xi had "enormous problems", including "an economy that is not functioning very well".
"Can you think of any other world leader who'd trade places with Xi Jinping? I can't think of one," Biden said.
© Agence France-Presse