China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, will confer with President Barack Obama next month in California, months earlier than expected, as both sides seek to stem a drift in relations troubled by issues from cyber-spying to North Korea.
The meeting, set for 7-8 June at a retreat south-east of Los Angeles, underlines the importance of the relationship between the countries as they work out ways to make room for an increasingly powerful China in a US-led world order.
President Xi has said that China wants its rise to be peaceful, but that it will not compromise on issues of sovereignty – a stance that has aggravated disputes over islands in the East and South China Seas with several countries, including staunch US allies Japan and the Philippines.
Other pressing items on the presidents’ agenda are global economic recovery, US allegations of Chinese cyber-attacks and Washington’s desire that China do more to help curb North Korea’s nuclear programme. China, for its part, resents US military strength in Asia and being questioned on its human rights record.