Xi Jinping, China’s designated next leader, visits the US this week, in the middle of a divisive presidential campaign whose protagonists often find it convenient to blame China for America’s woes. He will face protests over unfair competition and currency manipulation, and tense discussions about human rights and security.
Chinese sensitivities, on the other hand, have been heightened by the election rhetoric and by US reaffirmation of its interests in Asia. Beijing is keen to strike a constructive note, urging collaboration to solve global problems. Such visits are also seen as an opportunity for Mr Xi to establish personal relationships, with planned side trips to Iowa and Los Angeles intended to show a softer, less formal side of the future leader. How Mr Xi is treated will be scrutinised. This will force Barack Obama and congressional leaders to weigh the pressures of partisan politics against the future of the relationship.