Relations between China and the United States have deteriorated due to issues such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping have started their first bilateral meeting.
The two men are discussing via videoconference at a time when relations between the two countries are deteriorating over issues such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Beijing’s treatment of predominantly Muslim Uyghurs in its western Xinjiang region.
Biden began the virtual meeting by saying that he has a responsibility, as a leader, to ensure that relations between China and the United States do not turn into open conflict.
Speaking from Beijing, Xi said the two countries faced multiple challenges.
He referred to Biden as “my old friend” and said rivals need to work more closely together.
“China and the United States need to increase communication and cooperation,” he said.
The two leaders have spoken on the phone twice since Biden’s inauguration in January, but Xi hasn’t traveled overseas since the coronavirus pandemic began, ruling out the possibility of a face-to-face summit.
In a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken prior to the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi highlighted Taiwan as a key point of contention between the two countries. China claims the island, a self-governing democracy of over 23 million people, as its own.
The meeting should continue for a few hours.