Before arriving in China, Obama described the country as a “vital partner, as well as a competitor.”
He also warned of “enormous strains” in relations if economic imbalances between them are not corrected.
On the trade front, there is much mistrust and even the possibility of a trade war after the US recently imposing tariffs on Chinese tyres and steel pipes claiming they are being sold at less than fair value.
The Chinese said that was protectionism by Washington.
Obama wants to encourage China to open up its markets more to US goods.
Last year the US imported nearly five times as much from China as it sold to the Chinese – 338 billion dollars worth against 70 billion.
Each month the imports from China increase..
It sells clothing and shoes, computers, toys and bicycles to the United States.
The largest US imports into China are agricultural products, particularly soybeans, semiconductors and airliners.
Obama is also talking to the Chinese about revaluing their currency, the yuan, which is pegged to the dollar which continues to fall in value.
US manufacturers have complained Beijing artificially holds down the yuan’s value to make Chinese exports cheaper and US goods more expensive in China.