Hu Jintao has left Beijing en route for a state visit to the United States. It is billed as the most important visit by a Chinese leader in the 30 years since Washington formalised relations with the communist state.
Economic issues will loom large during the four-day trip. Currency valuation is a major source of friction. US senators yesterday called on Congress to penalise China for allegedly manipulating its money to favour exports. Trade between the two countries is worth 300 billion euros a year.
But Washington is worried – its trade deficit with China is ballooning. “China approaches this, and the US approaches this even more with a sense that this is an opportunity to set the relationship on a course, clarify various kinds of critical issues and discuss them in a private, candid manner.” said analyst Jonathon Pollack, an East Asian specialist from the Wasington-based Brookings Institution.
North Korea will also be on the agenda, as will Taiwan. No immediate policy breakthroughs are expected.