Mr Xi arrived at the site of the bilateral summit, the historic Bourn-Roth Estate known as Fioli in San Mateo, California, at 11.17 am local time. The mansion where the two leaders are meeting is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and was built over a century ago for a water and gold magnate, William Bourn II.
The Chinese leader emerged from his armoured limousine and was greeted by Mr Biden, who smiled and shook hands with him before the two men entered the mansion to begin their talks.
As the meeting began, Mr Biden told Mr Xi, “We’ve known each other for a long time. We haven’t always agreed … but our meetings have always been candid, straightforward”.
He added that it’s “paramount that we understand each other truly, leader to leader”.
“Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed,” Mr Xi told the US delegation, which included 10 people in addition to the president, who was flanked by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Also in attendance at the long table were National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Climate Envoy John Kerry, and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.
“As long as they respect each other, coexist in peace … they will be fully capable of rising above differences,” Mr Xi said.
“You and I are at the helm of China-US relations … I look forward to having an in-depth exchange,” he told Mr Biden.
The meeting between the American and Chinese heads of state is the seventh interaction they have had since Mr Biden became the 46th US president in January 2021, but just their second in-person meeting.
They previously met virtually on two occasions, in November 2021 and May 2022.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement ahead of the meeting that the leaders would discuss “issues” in the bilateral relationship, as well as “the continued importance of maintaining open lines of communication, and a range of regional and global issues”.
According to a senior administration official, the two leaders will announce a deal for China to crack down on exports of chemicals used to produce fentanyl in exchange for some sanctions relief, as well as a deal to restrict the use of autonomous AI for military purposes.
But the most important result the White House hopes to achieve at the meeting is an agreement to end more than a year of no communication between the US and Chinese defence establishments that has left the two superpowers at risk of getting dragged into a violent conflagration.
Mr Biden himself provided a window into his thinking just hours before he departed Washington when he answered questions after delivering remarks on this year’s National Climate Assessment.
Asked about what he’d consider “success” coming out of Wednesday’s meeting with Mr Xi, Mr Biden replied: “To get back on a normal course of corresponding: being able to pick up the phone and talk to one another when there’s a crisis, being able to make sure our militaries still have contact with one another”.
The meeting, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit, will cap months of careful diplomatic efforts by a range of top administration officials to lay the groundwork for restoration of head-of-state level talks after a breakdown in relations brought on by the February shootdown of a Chinese-owned espionage airship off the East Coast of the US.
It also follows a provocative move by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last year.
On 4 August last year, more than 700,000 people around the world tracked a US Air Force plane carrying Ms Pelosi from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
It was the first visit by a US House speaker to the self-governing island, which the People’s Republic of China claims as its own territory since then-Speaker Newt Gingrich went there in the mid-1990s.
In response, Beijing conducted a series of military exercises nearby, including live-fire drills in Taiwan’s territorial waters and air-defence identification zone.
The Chinese government also lashed out at the US with a decision to suspend bilateral talks on fighting climate change, and by cutting off all dialogues between the US Department of Defence and the People’s Liberation Army, including bilateral talks between area commanders and between top US and Chinese defence officials, as well as regular communications on military and maritime safety, returning illegal immigrants, criminal investigations, transnational crime and illegal drugs.