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U.S. President Barack Obama during a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the US Ambassador's Residence, Amsterdam, Netherlands, March 24, 2014 (U.S. Embassy in the Hague photo).

Xi’s Visit Exposes Mismatch in U.S and Chinese Expectations

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015

Since U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, met in Beijing last November, the United States and China have seen incremental progress in cooperation on climate change, Iran’s nuclear program and other areas, as well as continued strong trade. Yet these positive developments have been overshadowed by a deepening distrust over an array of other issues: the South China Sea, cyberespionage, the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the intensification of a human rights crackdown under an increasingly authoritarian Xi.

With this gloomy and tense backdrop, Xi’s visit to the U.S. this week, starting Tuesday in Seattle and capped with a state dinner at the White House on Friday, appears to face serious headwinds. Pessimistic Western commentators anticipate little chance of breakthroughs on the most intractable disputes. China’s continued buildup of military airfields in the South China Sea in the face of U.S. criticism, and Obama’s hint of potential sanctions over recent cyberattacks carried out by Chinese hackers or their proxies—despite strong objections from Beijing—point to deep frustration on both sides. ...

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