President Biden is expected to announce agreements on military communications pipelines and counter-drugs at a later separate news conference This is the first time he has spoken to a Chinese leader in a year.
The leaders of the two countries met on the eve of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Their talks come amid rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies, with the White House trying to get tough on China.
The last time Biden and Xi Jinping spoke face-to-face was at the G20 summit in Indonesia in November 2022.
Listen to NPR’s special report and watch Biden’s press conference:
Biden’s idea for a successful meeting is to restore communication
Biden said on Tuesday he hoped communications with Xi Jinping could return to more normal levels, especially between the two countries’ militaries.
In August 2022, Beijing announced cut off conversation After then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, the two sides exchanged views with the United States on major issues such as climate and military relations.
“Getting back to the normal process of being able to pick up the phone and talk to each other when there’s a crisis, being able to make sure that our troops are still connected to each other,” Biden said when asked by a reporter what would set him apart from Xi. The meeting was a success.
“We are not trying to decouple from China, but we are trying to make the relationship better,” Biden added.
“There’s no substitute for face-to-face discussions,” Biden told Xi at the start of the meeting. “I’ve always thought our discussions were direct and candid, and I’ve always appreciated them.”
Despite the lack of communication between Biden and Xi himself, U.S. government officials and Chinese colleagues have met numerous times in recent months.
“We have to make sure that competition does not turn into conflict,” Biden told Xi.
Fentanyl is also expected to become a topic
The White House said that in addition to reestablishing communication between the U.S. and Chinese militaries, efforts to combat the illegal trade in fentanyl will also be a topic of talks between Biden and Xi.
He said conflicts in the Middle East and between Ukraine and Russia would also emerge, including Iran’s involvement in the war between Israel and Hamas.