Biden, Xi shake hands as they meet amid superpower tensions
President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping opened their first in-person meeting Monday since the US president took office nearly two years ago, amid increasing economic and security tensions between the two superpowers as they compete for global influence.
Xi and Biden greeted each other with a handshake at a luxury resort hotel in Indonesia, where they are attending the Group of 20 summit of large economies. As they began their conversation, Biden said he and Xi have a “responsibility” to show that their nations can “manage our differences” and identify areas of mutual cooperation. Xi added that he hoped the pair would “elevate the relationship” and that he was prepared to have a “candid and in-depth exchange of views” with Biden.
Both men entered the highly anticipated meeting with bolstered political standing at home. Democrats triumphantly held onto control of the US Senate, with a chance to boost their ranks by one in a runoff election in Georgia next month, while Xi was awarded a third five-year term in October by the Communist Party’s national congress, a break with tradition.
“We have very little misunderstanding,” Biden told reporters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Sunday, where he participated in a gathering of southeast Asian nations before 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 said of his own situation: “I know I’m coming in stronger.” White House aides have repeatedly sought to play down any notion of conflict between the two nations and have emphasized that they believe the two countries can work in tandem on shared challenges such as climate change and health security.