President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping came face-to-face on Wednesday for their first engagement since their last meeting in Indonesia during the 2022 Group of 20 leaders' summit.
Mr Xi arrived at the site of the bilateral summit, the historic Bourn-Roth estate known as Fioli in San Mateo, California, at 11.17am. local time. The mansion where the two leaders meet is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and was built over a century ago for a water and gold magnate, William Bourn II.
The Chinese leader stepped out of his armored limousine and was greeted by Biden, who smiled and shook hands before the two men entered the mansion to begin their talks.
As the meeting began, Biden told Xi, “We've known each other for a long time. We didn't always agree… but our meetings were always honest, direct.”
He added that “it is of the utmost importance that we truly understand each other, leader to leader.”
Xi said through a translator that “the China-US relationship has never been smooth in the past 50 years or more” and added that “turning our backs on each other is not an option.”
“Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed,” Xi told the US delegation, which included 10 people in addition to the president, who was flanked by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, climate envoy John Kerry and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo also attended the long table.
“As long as they respect each other, coexist peacefully… they will be fully capable of overcoming differences,” Xi said.
“You and I are at the helm of China-US relations … I look forward to having an in-depth exchange,” he told Biden.
The meeting between the heads of state of America and China is the seventh interaction they have had since Biden became the 46th president of the US in January 2021, but only their second one-on-one meeting.
They previously met virtually on two occasions, in November 2021 and May 2022.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement before the meeting that the leaders would discuss “issues” in bilateral relations, as well as “the continued importance of maintaining open lines of communication and a range of regional and global issues.”
According to a senior administration official, the two leaders will announce a deal for China to crack down on exports of chemicals used to make fentanyl in exchange for sanctions relief, as well as an agreement to limit the use of autonomous artificial intelligence for the military aims.
But the most important outcome the White House hopes to achieve at the meeting is an agreement to end more than a year of no communication between US and Chinese defense facilities that has left the two superpowers in danger of being drawn into a violent firefight.
Mr. Biden himself provided a window into his thinking just hours before departing Washington, D.C., when he answered questions after his remarks on this year's National Climate Assessment.
Asked what he would consider a “success” from Wednesday's meeting with Mr. Xi, Mr. Biden replied: “To get back to a normal course of correspondence: being able to pick up the phone and talk to each other when there is a crisis. , to be able to make sure that our soldiers still have contact with each other.”
The meeting, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit, will cap months of careful diplomatic efforts by a range of senior administration officials to lay the groundwork for resuming head-of-state talks after a breakdown in relations. . caused by the downing of a Chinese-owned spy plane off the US East Coast.
It also follows a defiant move by then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi last year.
On August 4 last year, more than 700,000 people around the world watched a US Air Force plane take Ms Pelosi from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
It was the first visit by a US House speaker to the self-ruled island, which the People's Republic of China claims as its own territory, since then-President Newt Gingrich went there in the mid-1990s.
In response, Beijing has conducted a series of close-range military drills, including live-fire drills in Taiwan's territorial waters and air defense reconnaissance zone.
The Chinese government also criticized the U.S. for suspending bilateral talks on combating climate change and cutting off all dialogue between the U.S. Department of Defense and the People's Liberation Army, including bilateral talks between regional commanders and between top U.S. and Chinese defense officials, as well as regular communications on military and maritime security, returning illegal immigrants, criminal investigations, transnational crime, and illegal drugs.