Many were astounded at the compliment that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) delivered to China and its economy in the midst of political turmoil surrounding the crackdown on political dissidents in Hong Kong.
The presidential candidate made the comments during an interview with The Hill TV.
"But what we have to say about China, in fairness to China and its leadership, is if I'm not mistaken, they have made more progress in addressing extreme poverty than any country in the history of civilization," Sanders said.
"OK? So they've done a lot of things for their people," he concluded.
The caveat came after he denied that China was a threat to the American worker.
"What is your view of China today. Do you believe China represents an existential threat to the American worker?" asked Krystal Ball.
"No," Sanders responded.
"I wouldn't use the word existential threat. You know," he continued. "I think China is a country that is moving unfortunately in a more authoritarian way, in a number of directions. We would have hoped that they would move toward a democratic, a more democratic form of government, they're moving in the opposite direction."
Among the many critics of Sanders' assessment of the success of Chinese economics was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
"Sure, the Chinese Communists have wrongfully imprisoned & tortured millions, and they have murdered over 65 million people, but Bernie may have a point: when you're dead, your poverty's solved, right?" he tweeted sarcastically.