Chinese President Xi Jinping has landed in the United States for his first visit in six years, after US President Joe Biden said his goal in their bilateral talks this week was to restore normal communications with Beijing, including military-to-military contacts.
Xi is due to meet Biden near San Francisco on Wednesday morning US time, before attending the annual summit of the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping.
The summit will be their first face-to-face meeting in a year and follows months of high-level meetings to prepare the ground, after tensions between the two countries spiked over issues from trade to human rights and the pandemic.
Speaking ahead of his departure, Biden said his goal was simply to improve the bilateral relationship.
“We’re not trying to decouple from China. What we’re trying to do is change the relationship for the better,” Biden told reporters at the White House before heading to San Francisco.
Asked what he hoped to achieve at the meeting, he said he wanted “to get back on a normal course of corresponding; being able to pick up the phone and talk to one another if there’s a crisis; being able to make sure our [militaries] still have contact with one another”.
Xi waved from the door of his Air China plane before walking down the steps to meet US officials, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns, who were waiting on the tarmac.
He is on his first visit to US since 2017 when he met then president Donald Trump.
China, which regularly talks about “red lines” on issues such as the self-ruled island Taiwan, which it claims as its own and its expansive claims in the South China Sea, has been more circumspect about its expectations for the summit.
A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry mentioned only “in-depth communication” and “major issues concerning world peace” when asked about the meeting this week.