Sino-American relations are likely to get a boost when President Barack Obama comes to China later this month. The potential to work together to combat climate change is expected to overshadow more contentious issues, such as trade, military relations and human rights.
|US President Barack Obama |
From tentative beginnings in the 1970's, Sino-American ties have grown into what is often described as one of the most important relationships in the world.
China was one highlight of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first trip abroad. "The inter-dependent world in which we live requires us to find new ways to collaborate and cooperate in the face of unprecedented global challenges and untapped global opportunities," she stated.
Ahead of her visit, Clinton indicated that while the U.S. remains concerned about China's poor human rights record, that issue will not be at the top of her agenda.
Instead, both countries are stressing joint efforts to combat climate change. China and the United States are the world's top two emitters of the greenhouse gases, which many scientists say contribute to global warming.
Sun Zhe is the director of Tsinghua University's Center for U.S.-China Relations. He acknowledges the countries have differences on climate change, but he hopes President Obama's visit will produce an agreement to work together on it. "If both countries can use President Obama's visit to strengthen cooperation, if they can achieve that goal, then that would be really good," he said.
He says the two sides will be able to civilly discuss differences on some issues, such as trade, but will have a harder time smoothing out conflicts on other issues, such as military relations.
For young Chinese, American pop culture is a strong influence. Many say they do not know much about President Obama's policies or how his administration feels about China.
Students at Tsinghua University say they still want to see the U.S. leader because he is such a famous person.
"He's one of the more moderate American leaders. He won the Nobel Peace prize," Huang Xingjie said.
"Yes, of course I would go see him in person. I think Obama is really handsome," Li Shuzhen adds.
President Obama arrives in China for his first visit November 15.