The man expected to become China’s next leader has had a taste of what lies ahead in frank discussions with the US president. Xi Jingping discussed trade, human rights and other sensitive issues with Barack Obama at the start of his visit to the US.
It was something of a test too for Obama, who was trying to balance fostering future relations with the political need to look firm with Beijing in an election year.
After their talks Obama said: “We have been able to pursue significant consultations on opportunities for both countries to improve their economic relationships and strategic relationships, and also manage areas of tensions in a way that is constructive.”
Though now very important trading partners, China and the US are at odds over a number of economic issues. Washington also remains wary of Beijing’s growing assertiveness in global geopolitics.
While some hope Xi’s presumed leadership, will herald a new era of reform in China, others are keeping up the pressure for change now. Several hundred protesters took part in a demonstration outside the White House against Xi’s visit.