The relationship between Beijing and Washington is at a “critical juncture”, President Xi Jinping told a senior adviser to Barack Obama on Monday ahead of meetings with the US leader next week.
National Security Adviser Tom Donilon was in Beijing as part of preparations for a June 7-8 summit at the Sunnylands resort in California, the two leaders’ first encounter since Xi took office in March.
The talks come amid pressing issues such as tensions over North Korea’s latest nuclear test in February and US accusations of Chinese government-backed cyberspying, which Beijing denies.
Other issues include China’s territorial disputes with Japan and Southeast Asian neighbours that have prompted some to seek assistance from the US, along with international stalemate on how to resolve the civil war in Syria.
“The current China-US relationship is at a critical juncture to build on past successes and open up new dimensions for the future,” Xi told Donilon at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
He said he looked forward to the opportunity to meet Obama and “have extensive and deep discussions about major strategic issues of mutual interest”.
Donilon told Xi that the “unprecedented level of high-level dialogue and interactions ... as well as other channels of communication between senior officials have been essential to effectively advancing our relationship”.
The summit’s secluded desert location far from Washington is aimed at setting the course for smoother relations, which both sides have stressed as tremendously important.
Donilon’s trip follows recent visits from several top US officials, including Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in March and US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey and Secretary of State John Kerry in April.