Biden and Xi meet, G20 Bali summit

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, August 18, 2011.
Joe Biden and Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, August 18, 2011. (Nelson Ching/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

When Joe Biden and Xi Jinping first met more than 10 years ago, the United States and China, despite their differences, have been closer for 30 years.

“The trajectory of that relationship has been positive and overwhelmingly in the mutual interests of our two countries,” Biden said during a 2011 visit to Beijing as vice president to develop a personal relationship with China’s then-leader-designate.

Sitting next to Xi in a Beijing hotel, Biden told a roomful of U.S. and Chinese business leaders about his “huge optimism about the next 30 years” of bilateral relations and praised Xi for his “straightforwardness.”

“Only friends and equals can be honest and serve each other,” he said.

During their 2011 trip to China, the two leaders had a marathon meeting and dining in Beijing and the southwestern city of Chengdu. They also went deep into Qingshan, Sichuan Province, to visit a rural high school rebuilt after a deadly earthquake.

The following year, Xi made a reciprocal visit to the United States at the invitation of Biden, who hosted his Chinese counterpart for dinner at his residence after a series of meetings at the White House, State Department and the Pentagon. Biden also flew to Los Angeles to meet Xi Jinping on the final leg of his visit.

Keep reporting: Their face-to-face contact continued after Xi took power in 2012 — Biden claimed he spent 70 hours north with Xi as vice president and traveled 17,000 miles with him across China and the United States — although some Exaggerated, but still reflects one of the most important relationships on Earth right now.

The last time they met face-to-face was in 2015, during Xi Jinping’s first state visit to the United States as China’s top leader, when Biden was vice president.

Conversion relationship: But as the relationship between the two countries plummeted, so did the once friendly relationship between the two leaders.

Xi Jinping is an ideological hardliner who believes China will return to the center of the world stage and is skeptical — some would say hostile — of the United States. At the same time, Biden has grown increasingly weary of China’s authoritarian turn under Xi Jinping, and has described the rivalry between the two countries as a struggle between authoritarianism and democracy.

Last summer, Biden spoke out against describing him as an “old friend” of Xi Jinping.

“Let’s be straight. We know each other well; we’re not old friends. It’s just pure business,” he said at the time.

Read more about the Biden-Xi relationship Gentlemen.

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