Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States this week will be "an opportunity to expand U.S.-China cooperation" and to "address areas of disagreement constructively," according to a White House spokesperson.
President Xi is scheduled to travel to Seattle first before visiting Washington and New York, where he is due to give a speech to the UN General Assembly on September 28.
Among the issues for discussion at the White House are bilateral trade, defense, cyber security and South China Sea territorial disputes. President Barack Obama recently said cyber security will be a topic to be forcefully taken up with his Chinese counterpart. The Chinese administration has also said that it is opposed to cybercrimes, and is itself a victim of regular U.S. hacking attacks.
Beyond that, Xi's visit comes at a time of global concerns over Chinese stock market volatility and the strength and sustainability of Chinese economy.
Many analysts, however, feel the biggest of all is the situation in the South China Sea, with a Chinese buildup in the region being deemed threatening by the U.S. administration. The U.S. accuses China of creating "new facts on the ground" on the territorial issue and claims a double standard is at work as five Chinese Navy vessels were recently spotted in the Bering Sea.
These events, coupled with recent cyber security incidents between the two countries, have ratcheted up tensions. The American Navy wants to push the envelope a bit further by gaining approval to send ships and planes into the disputed areas of the South China Sea. The U.S. maintains this would be legal transit allowed by international law.
With the two main political parties locked in a fierce struggle for who will succeed President Obama next year, the rhetoric is high to avoid seeming "weak on China."