Just a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken became the highest ranking American official to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Joe Biden called his counterpart in Beijing a "dictator".
Blinken's meeting with Xi in Beijing on Monday was part of efforts to improve the strained relations between the two largest economies.
But at a fundraiser in California on Tuesday night, Biden said that Xi was embarrassed over the recent tensions involving a suspected Chinese spy balloon transiting the US which was shot down by an American fighter jet, the BBC reported.
"The reason why Xi Jinping got very upset, in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two box cars full of spy equipment in it, was he didn't know it was there. That's a great embarrassment for dictators. When they didn't know what happened," the President said.
China is yet to comment on Biden's remark.
On the outcome of the meeting on Monday, Xi had said that some progress was made, while Blinken indicated both sides were open to more talks as major differences remained.
Blinken's visit to Beijing, which was the first by a Secretary of State to China in five years, restarted high-level communications between the two countries.
The Biden administration's relationship with Beijing is one of its most complicated and consequential, and one that has seen months of strain, including two military-related incidents in recent weeks.
Biden and Xi met in person for the first time as presidents on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Indonesia last November.
Blinken's trip, which had been announced by Biden and Xi after their meeting, was originally scheduled to happen in February and had been seen as a key follow-on engagement.
However, it was postponed after the discovery of the suspected Chinese spy balloon.