White House Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby pushed back against Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy’s suggestion that President Joe Biden is weak on China.
Doocy asked Kirby at Thursday’s White House press briefing why the president has been tougher on Russia than China.
“I wouldn’t agree with the premise of your question, Peter,” Kirby began.
“Well, I think when Russia was getting aggressive around Ukraine, the president was out every couple of days telling [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, ‘don’t do it.’ And now China is getting aggressive around Taiwan, and we’re not hearing anything like that from the president,” Doocy replied.
“I beg to differ, we’ve been standing here for almost a week, Peter, talking about our concerns about what China was preparing to do and we put out declassified information that we saw, what the Chinese playbook was gonna be,” Kirby said. “Look, I stood at another podium not long ago and much of the same way we reacted then, we’re reacting now in terms of being honest and transparent about what’s going on and calling it out for what it is and today talking about exactly what we’re going to do to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific. So I’m afraid I just challenge the premise of your question.”
Doocy then asked why the president has no scheduled call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, arguing that he has a lot of free time during his isolation.
Kirby immediately pushed back, saying, “He doesn’t have free time. He’s been working all the way through his illness, quite frankly Peter, so that’s a little bit insulting,” he said.
“It’s not insulting to say that someone who is isolating by themselves—” Doocy began before being cut off.
“You suggested he has a lot of free time as if he’s not doing anything and you know that’s not the case, Mr. Doocy,” Kirby said.
Kirby then conceded that Biden has no updates on a call with Xi Jinping, but has spoken to the Chinese president five separate times.
Tensions have been rising in the area since Nancy Pelosi announced her trip to the region, not mentioning Taiwan by name. However, the speaker of the House landed on the island on Tuesday night local time, and flew out by Wednesday afternoon.
On Wednesday, China went so far as to fire a ballistic missile into Taiwanese waters after having announced that they would be participating in military drills in the Taiwan Strait.
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