Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up his trip to Thailand on Saturday, capping a week of diplomacy in which Beijing sought to forge stronger ties with its neighbours amid an intense geopolitical rivalry with the United States. Before leaving the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum in Bangkok, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke briefly to US Vice-President Kamala Harris , saying his meeting with US President Joe Biden on Monday was “constructive” and would guide the next phase of US-China relations. Xi also told Harris that he hoped both sides would improve mutual understanding and push for the return of “healthy and stable” bilateral ties, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported. Harris, meanwhile, underlined Biden’s message to the Chinese leader that “we must maintain open lines of communication to responsibly manage the competition between our countries”, Agence France-Presse reported, quoting a US official who requested anonymity. The Xi-Biden meeting at the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, was the first in-person sit-down between the pair as heads of state, and covered a range of thorny topics, including Taiwan and the war in Ukraine. Biden also pressed Xi on North Korea, which has accelerated its missile tests this year, including holding an intercontinental ballistic missile test on Friday. Analysts said the three-hour meeting in Bali signalled a mutual desire to turn down the temperature after a series of flashpoints in recent months, particularly over Taiwan and technology. Xi met nearly a dozen state leaders at the G20 before flying to Bangkok for the two-day Apec summit, where the meetings continued, including talks with the prime ministers of Japan and New Zealand. Xi used the meetings to call for stronger ties while selling China’s economic role in the region. He continued his pitch on Saturday, repeating his country’s commitment to trade liberalisation and a rules-based multilateral trading system. According to the Chinese foreign ministry, Xi told leaders that greater efforts were needed to boost regional economic cooperation. “China will not waver in its commitment to high-standard opening up. China will open its door wider,” he was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vowed on Saturday to strengthen Japan’s defences and its partnerships with allies, citing an “increasingly severe and uncertain” external environment. He said Russia’s war in Ukraine had shaken “the basis of international order”, and unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in East Asia “must never be tolerated”. Kishida did not refer to China directly but he did say such attempts had taken place in the East China and South China seas , where China has territorial disputes with Japan and several Southeast Asian countries. “Faced with such reality, in order to secure peace and stability, we will strengthen Japan’s role in diplomacy and security,” he said. Tokyo would “steadfastly strengthen” the Japan-US alliance and work with other partners to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, he said, borrowing a Washington refrain. But Kishida also described his meeting with Xi on Thursday as “candid”, and said both leaders agreed to maintain close communication at the highest level. They also agreed that nuclear weapons must not be used in the Ukraine war. Xi and Marcos look to expand China-Philippines ties after first meeting Dylan Loh, an assistant professor in foreign policy at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said the meetings between Xi and US officials bode well for US-China ties and went “a long way” in restoring lines of communication between the two countries. “Of course, it remains to be seen if anything concrete or substantial comes out of this as Sino-US relations will continue to remain tense but it is a very positive start,” he said. After being largely absent due to the pandemic, Xi was also playing “diplomatic catch-up” with his back-to-back meetings with regional leaders, Loh said, adding that he expected the pace of such interactions to pick up. As the Apec forum closed on Saturday, member states agreed on a joint final declaration which, among other things, stated that the vast majority of countries condemned the war in Ukraine. The declaration noted, however, that there were “other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions”, similar to the conclusion reached days earlier by the G20 members. Xi also met Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Saturday. The summit was the final of a trio held in Asia over the past week and a half, starting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Cambodia on November 10.