During a press conference on Wednesday, President Joe Biden reaffirmed his stance on China's President Xi Jinping, labeling him a "dictator."
The moment, however, that stole the spotlight was the captured reaction of Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Video footage of the press conference, held after Biden's meeting with Xi at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and other separate talks in San Francisco, showed Blinken's apparent discomfort at Biden's blunt characterization.
The Biden-Xi meeting was anticipated as a crucial step towards mending the strained China-U.S. relations, which had worsened following Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan and the U.S. downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon.
Biden's direct comment came in response to a question about his previous remark in June, which China had strongly criticized as "extremely absurd and irresponsible."
Social media users and journalists were quick to point out Blinken's reaction. NBC News' senior Washington editor Ginger Gibson noted, "Watch Tony Blinken's body language when Biden says he thinks Xi is a dictator.
It's like you can hear him sucking in his breath." Similarly, Christine Duhaime, a journalist and financial crime expert, observed, "Blinken reacting to Biden calling President Xi a dictator is priceless.
You can tell he's like jesus no, in his head."
Biden's candid assertion – "He is a dictator in the sense that he's a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that's based on a form of government totally different than ours" – reflects his straightforward approach in international politics.
Blinken had previously defended Biden's candidness, stating in June, "The president always speaks candidly, he speaks directly, he speaks clearly, and he speaks for all of us."
This incident adds to the ongoing narrative of the complex dynamics between the U.S. and China, with Xi having recently secured his third term as president. The White House described the Biden-Xi discussions as "candid and constructive," covering a range of issues including China's human rights record.
China's official response to Biden's latest comments remains pending. Meanwhile, Blinken's reaction has become a subject of discussion, highlighting the delicate balance of diplomatic rhetoric and realpolitik.
Watch the video of Blinkes reaction right here: