Hillary Clinton is scheduled to arrive in Beijing and discuss a wide range of issues of common concern with top Chinese officials, after wrapping up her visit to Indonesia on Monday, the second stop of an 11-day, six-nation tour.
Clinton is scheduled to arrive in Beijing on Tuesday and hold talks with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. They will meet reporters together on Wednesday. Clinton will then travel to East Timor and Brunei, before she represents US President Barack Obama at an Asia-Pacific summit in Vladivostok, Russia, from Saturday to Sunday.
As Obama formally launches his re-election bid at this week's Democratic convention in North Carolina, Clinton is skipping the convention to build ties in Asia, especially as Washington’s relationship with Beijing increasingly encroaches on politics back home, according to AFP.
Clinton’s two-day visit will probably be her last as the top US diplomat, as the presidential election is drawing near. She visited Beijing in May when the two countries held the annual strategic and economic dialogue.
Her China trip will be followed by a visit from US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is expected to make his first trip to China in mid-September with an eye on expanding mutual military ties. Cai Yingting, deputy chief of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, also paid a visit to the US in August.
High-level diplomatic visits are important elements of the Sino-US relationship, one of the most important bilateral ties in the world, according to Paul Haenle, director of Beijing-based Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, who was the China director of the Bush administration.
"Given the facts that the degree that our two countries can understand and better cooperate with each other can impact the entire word, it is important that we raise the number and level of the exchanges," he said.
There will be many topics on Clinton’s agenda, such as economic, security, regional and international issues, according to Haenle. Attention will also be focused on the South China Sea, according to experts and media reports, due to recent disputes in the region and the intension of the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia policy, which has raised concerns from China.
The policy is not a shift but a consistent one in the US' Asia-Pacific policy, as Washington has had a presence there since World War II, Haenle said.
The biggest challenge for Sino-US relations is improving the effectiveness of communication, according to Sun Zhe, a professor on American studies at Tsinghua University.
"It is not possible for the US to contain China and it costs too much to do that. From a rational perspective, the US, as a responsible government, should work together with China, and this is the right choice," said Jin Canrong, an American studies professor at Renmin University.