Obama’s ambassador to China, Max Baucus, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that China views Biden as a weak leader.
His remarks come in the wake of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan on Tuesday, which she made despite warnings from China and members of the Biden administration not to provoke the communist country by raising the specter of an independent Taiwan.
China fiercely opposes Taiwanese independence, maintaining that the island nation is a breakaway province from the mainland that it intends to “reunify” either through peace or force.
Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan sparked outrage on Chinese social media and provoked dire warnings from the Chinese government and propagandists associated with the regime, who warned that her meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen inflamed tensions between the U.S. and China.
“The deeper problem here really is that the visit by the speaker is really pushing America more toward recognizing [Taiwan’s] an independent country,” Baucus said. “That’s a big problem here.”
“Don’t forget, too, Speaker Pelosi, it’s a free pass for her,” he continued. “She’s not the president. She doesn’t have to worry about conducting foreign policy worldwide. She is a member of Congress. She doesn’t have to worry about it. She does a little, but not much.”
Baucus told Tapper why President Biden appears weak to the Chinese government.
“Poor Joe Biden,” he said. “He looks weak because he either told her not to go and it looks weak to the Chinese guys or he’s weak because he told her not to go and she went anyway. And that makes us look a little bit weak to the Chinese.”
“I got to tell you, during the time I was serving in Beijing, one thing I really learned: Chinese understand strength better than do people in any other country, and they could smell weakness 100 miles away,” he added. “We’ve got to be strong but strong in the best sense.”
In response to Pelosi’s visit, China has staged its first widescale military operation surrounding Taiwan for the first time in decades.
“This action is targeted at the US’s shocking recent major escalation on the Taiwan issue, and serves as a serious warning to Taiwanese independence forces or those seeking independence,” explained Chinese military spokesperson Shi Yi.