Biden-Xi Meeting Live Updates: Presidents Agree Not to 'Veer Into Conflict' in Three-Hour Talks

Live Updates

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping have agreed not to "veer into conflict" during a three-hour virtual meeting which aimed to slow months of rapidly deteriorating relations between the U.S. and China.

The two presidents have had a fraught relationship since Biden was sworn into office in January and was quick to criticize Beijing for human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims, suppression of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, and military aggression against Taiwan.

The focus is now on whether warm words will translate to action, with no traditional joint statement from the leaders confirming steps to lower the temperature and the core issues going unresolved.

Live updates have now ended

Live updates have now ended

Where do China and U.S. go from here?

Biden and Xi, while turning down the rhetoric on Taiwan and nuclear programs in their meeting yesterday, still have major diplomatic hurdles to cross, with increased military confrontation in the South China Sea still likely.

Paul Haenle of the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace told the Associated Press that the U.S.-China relationship is "perhaps the most consequential bilateral relationship in the world" and that talking was positive, but actions are unlikely to follow soon.

The two largest economies, two largest militaries, two largest greenhouse gas emitters...so the fact that the two leaders are meeting, in my view, is a good thing. But we need, I think, to be realistic.

Taiwanese aircraft takes off for military drills
An armed home-made Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) takes off from a motorway in Pingtung, southern Taiwan, during the annual Han Kuang drill Sam Yeh/Getty Images

Chinese state media celebrates 'friendly tone' of Biden and Xi

The three-hour talks yesterday reflected the "personal relationship" between the two leaders, academic Wu Xinbo told the state-backed Global Times.

It's rare for heads of state to have such a long conversation, and such a good relationship is seen as a positive condition for handling bilateral ties.

Another academic, Fang-Yu Chen, told the paper that the pair were moving toward "strategy clarity" but warned that the U.S. is more likely trying to "contain" China than become friendlier with it.

Since the Trump administration's trade war and now with the Biden administration, [we see the U.S.] taking a full-government approach to try to compete with China. So it is a very clear trend, and I don't see any change, even though there are some meetings or conferences, in the U.S.-China policy.

Was Taiwan discussed at the talks?

Arguably the most sensitive conflict between the U.S. and China is the expansionist policy of Xi Jinping's government towards taking control of Taiwan, which it regards as its right.

The pair did discuss the topic, with President Biden warning Xi that his support for the independence of the country was "rock-solid" but stopped short of suggesting the U.S. had a "commitment" to protect Taiwan from a Chinese military attack - something which the White House had to row back on last month.

The U.S. "strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," said an official readout after the meeting, while Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the issue "concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as China's core interest...it is the most important and sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations".

Who was at the Biden-Xi talks?

Although the leaders led the talks, the pair had their teams at hand to help debate the tough issues that needed discussing.

Biden was joined in the Roosevelt Room for the video call by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a handful of aides, while Xi was accompanied in the East Hall of the Great Hall of the People by communist party director Ding Xuexiang and a number of advisers.

Biden's team meets Xi Jinping
Biden's team meets Chinese President Xi Jinping Getty Images

Was the temperature cooled between the U.S. and China?

There was much anticipation in the lead-up to the meeting between Biden and Xi, who have been sniping at each other in recent months over an array of major international issues.

But Biden sought to get reassurances of "simple, straightforward competition" instead of confrontation.

As I've said before, it seems to me our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure that the competition between our countries does not veer into conflict, whether intended or unintended.

Xi greeted the U.S. president as his "old friend" and echoed Biden's cordial tone in his own opening remarks.

China and the United States should respect each other, coexist in peace, and pursue win-win cooperation.

What is the history between Biden and Xi?

The two leaders have known each other for several years - first meeting as vice presidents of their respective countries in 2011 when Biden visited China, later in 2012 when Xi visited the U.S., and again in 2013.

The pair got on unusually well, with a top aide telling reporters traveling with Biden they had been "taken aback" by "the comfort that they have with one another, their willingness to really talk about the issues in a way that was personal, anecdotal, sort of building on each other's analysis," according to NBC News.

Biden meets Xi in 201113
Biden meets Xi in 201113
Biden meets Xi in 201113
Biden meets Xi in 201113
Biden meets Xi in 201113

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

Focus is turned to what happens next after high-level talks between Biden and Xi - has the meeting cooled tensions?

Follow Newsweek's liveblog for all the latest.