China has summoned the German ambassador after the country’s foreign minister labelled Xi Jinping a “dictator” during a television interview.
Ambassador Patricia Flor has been summoned for a meeting on Sunday to protest the minister’s remarks, the German foreign office in Berlin said.
During an interview with Fox News, German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock was asked about Vladimir Putin and his War in Ukraine. To which she responded: “If Putin were to win this war, what sign would that be for other dictators in the world, like Xi, like the Chinese president.”
“Therefore Ukraine has to win this war. Freedom and democracy have to win,” Ms Baerbock added.
The Chinese foreign ministry rejected the remarks and called it “extremely absurd”. It said the comments were a “serious infringement of China’s political dignity and an open provocation”.
Spokesperson Mao Ning said on Monday during the daily press briefing that China had contacted Germany through diplomatic channels to address the issue.
China and Germany remain crucial trade partners, but ties between the nations have been fraying over Taiwan and Beijing’s alleged rights violation.
Berlin this year announced its first-ever China strategy document, which called for reducing Germany’s dependency on China. But the government was cautious enough to say it does not want to “decouple” from the world’s second-largest economy.
China had previously lashed out at the US after president Joe Biden called his Chinese counterpart a “dictator”.
A war of words ensued between the nations after Mr Biden claimed Mr Xi was embarrassed over the tensions surrounding a suspected Chinese spy balloon that had been shot down by the Air Force over the East Coast.
“That’s a great embarrassment for dictators. When they didn’t know what happened,” he added.
Spokesperson Mao said Mr Biden’s comments at a fundraiser in California “go totally against facts and seriously violate diplomatic protocol, and severely infringe on China’s political dignity”.
“It is a blatant political provocation. China expresses strong dissatisfaction and opposition. The US remarks are extremely absurd and irresponsible.”