(BEIJING) -- When Chinese President Hu meets with President Obama this week, it will be the first time the leaders meet as representatives of the two largest economies in the world.
The balance of power has shifted in this relationship in the last few years, with China's growth surging in the double digits as the U.S. grapples with high unemployment, sluggish growth and an expensive war in Afghanistan. The question is whether in light of this shift, China is growing more strident in dealing with the U.S. and in pursuing its national interests.
In the last two years, President Hu and President Obama have met no fewer than seven times and have developed a relationship that has been described by Ambassador Jon Huntsman as "friendly, cordial and confident."
Innumerable strategic dialogues have been set up to address issues binding the two countries, from trade to security, renewable energy, the economy and, more haltingly, military ties.
So what can we expect to see out of Hu's visit? Of course the main bones of contention will inevitably arise. Weapon sales to Taiwan remain by far the most troubling issue to China.
On the subject of North Korea, China will continue to insist that a return to six-party talks is the only way to deal with this situation and will strongly resist involving the UN Security Council in any way.
On currency, China will complain about the U.S.'s policy of quantitative easing and argue that the yuan should be allowed to appreciate at its own pace. It will tout the projected $380 billion in trade between China and the U.S. this year. Certainly many other issues will be raised too -- Iran's nuclear program and climate cooperation to name just a couple.
But from the Chinese perspective, these state visits are less about scoring policy victories than they are about reaffirming the importance of the relationship and of cooperation between both sides.
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