Leaders of the G20 nations are in the Chinese city of Hangzhow for a two-day summit to find ways of boosting global growth.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is hosting the meeting for the first time, his country’s highest profile event of the year.
The G20 is UK prime minister Thereas May’s first international summit after Britain voted to leave the EU, prompting her predecessor to resign.
The US and China have planned on having what Obama said would be candid talks during his visit.
Obama has raised issues of freedom of the press on previous visits to China, which insists that media must follow the party line and promote “positive propaganda.”
Set to be high on the G20 agenda are strengthening the economic rebound, the Paris climate change agreement and cracking down on corporate tax avoidance.