The U.S. described the talks as respectful, straightforward and open, and Chinese spokesperson Zhao Lijian called them “candid, constructive, substantive and fruitful.”

No breakthroughs were delivered during talks between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden, but the cordial tone of the virtual meeting is an indication that relations between the sides may be turning a corner — even if that means merely walking back from the heated exchanges of earlier this year, AP reports.

Here is a look at what is driving tensions between the world’s two biggest economies and the main takeaways from the Xi-Biden talks.

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FROM WORSE TO BAD

Relations went into sharp decline after then-President Donald Trump imposed sweeping tariffs on Chinese goods in retaliation for what he said were Beijing’s unfair trading practices. The U.S. had for years been complaining about the theft or forced transfer of American technology and was campaigning to keep Chinese communications giants, most notably Huawei, out of the U.S. and other markets. The Trump administration also sharply criticized China on human rights issues.

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