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China complains to Germany after foreign minister calls Xi a 'dictator'

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock visits China

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has complained to Germany after its foreign minister labelled President Xi Jinping a "dictator", the Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday, calling the title "absurd" and an "open political provocation".

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made the remarks in a live interview with Fox News last week when asked about Russia's war on Ukraine.

"If Putin were to win this war, what sign would that be for other dictators in the world, like Xi, like the Chinese president?" she said.

Mao Ning, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said Baerbock's remarks were "extremely absurd" and infringed on China's political dignity.

"They are an open political provocation," Mao told a regular press briefing, adding that China had complained to Germany.

Baerbock is an outspoken critic of China.

In August, she said China posed a challenge to the "fundamentals of how we live together in this world". Earlier, she described aspects of a trip to China as "more than shocking" and said Beijing was increasingly becoming more of a systemic rival than a trade partner.

In June, U.S. President Joe Biden also called Xi a "dictator" a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded a visit to China aimed at stabilising ties.

(Reporting by Liz Lee, Ethan Wang and Bernard Orr; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Miral Fahmy)