Biden to Chinese VP: US reporter 'very important man'

Vice President Biden's tour of Asia took an unusual turn on Thursday, with the vice president mischievously telling a top Chinese official that an American reporter covering the meeting was “a very important man.”

The moment occurred following a photo op between Biden and Chinese Vice President Li Yuancho at a Bejing guesthouse that is used to house visiting foreign dignitaries. After the pair shook hands, Biden gestured at The Atlantic reporter Steve Clemons, who was snapping photos with his iPhone.

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“He is a very important man. Seriously he is important,” Biden told Li.

In his pool report describing the incident, Clemons said he “demurred as best he could,” but Biden pressed on.

“You should speak to him,” Biden said. “He is the one you really want to speak to. Seriously.”

Biden and Li began walking away, but Clemons was then approached by Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, who told him that the American vice president was “a good friend to you and to me.”

Biden then winked at Clemons as he and the two Chinese vice presidents began walking away.

The incident came a day after Biden criticized China's treatment of American journalists in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“We have many disagreements, and some profound disagreements, on some of those issues right now, in the treatment of U.S. journalists,” Biden said.

The vice president also met with U.S. journalists working in the country, including reporters for The New York Times and Bloomberg. The Times reported that China is stalling on visa renewals for journalists who have reported on the wealth of Chinese leaders.