President Joe Biden and Chinese language President Xi Jinping opened their first in-person assembly Monday because the U.S. president took workplace almost two years in the past, amid growing financial and safety tensions between the 2 superpowers as they compete for world affect.

Xi and Biden greeted one another with a handshake at a luxurious resort resort in Indonesia, the place they’re attending the Group of 20 summit of enormous economies. U.S. officers say Biden goals to “build a floor” within the relationship between the leaders — and nations — to determine areas of potential cooperation and to keep away from miscalculations between the nuclear powers on areas of disagreement.

Each males entered the extremely anticipated assembly with bolstered political standing at dwelling. Democrats triumphantly held onto control of the U.S. Senate, with an opportunity to spice up their ranks by one in a runoff election in Georgia subsequent month, whereas Xi was awarded a third five-year term in October by the Communist Social gathering’s nationwide congress, a break with custom.

“We have very little misunderstanding,” Biden informed reporters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Sunday, the place he participated in a gathering of southeast Asian nations earlier than leaving for Indonesia. “We just got to figure out where the red lines are and … what are the most important things to each of us going into the next two years.”

Biden added: “His circumstance has changed, to state the obvious, at home.” The president stated of his personal state of affairs: “I know I’m coming in stronger.”

White Home aides have repeatedly sought to minimize any notion of battle between the 2 nations and have emphasised that they imagine the 2 nations can work in tandem on shared challenges akin to local weather change and well being safety.

However relations between the U.S. and China have grown extra strained beneath successive American administrations, as financial, commerce, human rights and safety variations have come to the fore.

As president, Biden has repeatedly taken China to activity for human rights abuses in opposition to the Uyghur folks and different ethnic minorities, crackdowns on democracy activists in Hong Kong, coercive commerce practices, army provocations in opposition to self-ruled Taiwan and variations over Russia’s prosecution of its battle in opposition to Ukraine. Chinese language officers have largely kept away from public criticism of Russia’s battle, though Beijing has prevented direct assist akin to supplying arms.

Taiwan has emerged as one of the crucial contentious points between Washington and Beijing. A number of occasions in his presidency, Biden has stated the U.S. would defend the island — which China has eyed for eventual unification — in case of a Beijing-led invasion. However administration officers have harassed every time that the U.S.’s “One China” coverage has not modified. That coverage acknowledges the federal government in Beijing whereas permitting for casual relations and protection ties with Taipei, and its posture of “strategic ambiguity” over whether or not whether or not it could reply militarily if the had been island attacked.

Tensions flared even increased when Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visited Taiwan in August, prompting China to retaliate with army drills and the firing of ballistic missiles into close by waters.

The Biden administration additionally blocked exports of advanced computer chips to China final month — a nationwide safety transfer that bolsters U.S. competitors in opposition to Beijing. Chinese language officers shortly condemned the restrictions.

And although the 2 males have held 5 cellphone or video calls throughout Biden’s presidency, White Home officers say these encounters are not any substitute for Biden having the ability to meet and measurement up Xi in individual. That activity is all of the extra essential after Xi strengthened his grip on energy via the celebration congress, as lower-level Chinese language officers have been unable or unwilling to talk for his or her chief.

Requested in regards to the anticipated assembly, China’s overseas ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian stated final week at a information briefing that China was searching for “win-win cooperation with the U.S.” whereas reiterating Beijing’s issues in regards to the U.S. stance on Taiwan.

“The U.S. needs to stop obscuring, hollowing out and distorting the One China principle, abide by the basic norms in international relations, including respecting other countries’ sovereignty, territorial integrity and noninterference in other countries’ internal affairs,” he stated.

Xi has stayed near dwelling all through the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the place he has enforced a “zero-COVID” coverage that has resulted in mass lockdowns which have roiled the worldwide provide chains.

He made his first journey exterior China since begin of the pandemic in September with a cease in Kazakhstan after which onto Uzbekistan to participate within the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Group with Putin and different leaders of the Central Asian safety group.

White Home officers and their Chinese language counterparts have spent weeks negotiating out all the particulars of the assembly, which is happening at Xi’s resort with translators offering simultaneous interpretation via headsets.

U.S. officers had been wanting to see how Xi approaches the Biden sit-down after consolidating his place because the unquestioned chief of the state, saying they’d wait to evaluate whether or not that made him kind of more likely to hunt down areas of cooperation with the U.S.

Biden and Xi every introduced small delegations into the dialogue, with U.S. officers anticipating that Xi would convey newly-elevated authorities officers to the sit-down and expressing hope that it might result in extra substantive engagements down the road.

Earlier than assembly with Xi, Biden first held a sit-down with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who’s internet hosting the G-20 summit, to announce a spread of latest improvement initiatives for the archipelago nation, together with investments in local weather, safety, and training.

Many of Biden’s conversations and engagements throughout his three-country tour — which took him to Egypt and Cambodia earlier than he landed on the island of Bali on Sunday — had been, by design, making ready him for his assembly with Xi and sending a sign that the U.S. would compete in areas the place Xi has additionally labored to develop his nation’s affect.

In Phnom Penh, Biden sought to say U.S. affect and dedication in a area the place China has additionally been making inroads and the place many countries really feel allied with Beijing. He additionally sought enter on what he ought to increase with Xi in conversations with leaders from Japan, South Korea and Australia.

The 2 males have a historical past that dates to Biden’s time as vice chairman, when he launched into a get-to-know-you mission with Xi, then China’s vice chairman, in travels that introduced Xi to Washington and Biden via travels on the Tibetan plateau. The U.S. president has emphasised that he is aware of Xi nicely and he desires to make use of this in-person assembly to raised perceive the place the 2 males stand.

Biden was keen on tucking references to his conversations with Xi into his travels across the U.S. forward of the midterm elections, utilizing the Chinese language chief’s desire for autocratic governance to make his personal case to voters why democracy ought to prevail.

The president’s view was considerably validated on the worldwide stage, as White Home aides stated a number of world leaders approached Biden throughout his time in Cambodia — the place he was assembly with Asian allies to reassure them of the U.S. dedication to the area within the face of China’s assertive actions — to inform him they watched the end result of the midterm elections intently and that the outcomes had been a triumph for democracy.

U.S. officers stated no joint communique was anticipated after the assembly with Xi and downplayed expectations for coverage breakthroughs. The White Home stated Biden deliberate to carry a press after his assembly with Xi.