During a meeting with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Jan. 4, Obama reaffirmed his commitment to "building a bilateral relationship that is comprehensive in scope, positive in achievement, and cooperative in nature."
"The President said he looked forward to the visit of President Hu and to the U.S. and China working together effectively to address global challenges," said a White House statement.
Since Obama took office two years ago, the overall development of Sino-U.S. relations is stable despite disputes over issues related to Taiwan, Tibet, RMB exchange rate and trade between the two countries. Hu and Obama agreed to build "a positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-U.S. relationship for the 21st century" during their first meeting in London in April 2009.
In November 2009, Obama paid a state visit to China, during which the two sides reiterated in a joint statement that "they are committed to building a positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-U.S. relationship for the 21st century, and will take concrete actions to steadily build a partnership to address common challenges."
In the past two years, Hu and Obama met several times to discuss how to boost the bilateral ties and how to address major world and regional challenges.
The two sides have established the China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogues and the high-level consultation on people-to-people exchange, setting up unique and effective platforms to enhance mutual trust and cooperation between China and the United States.
In the past two years, China and the United States maintained close contact and coordination in tackling the international financial crisis, pushed forward the reform of global economic governance and played an important role in spurring world economic recovery.
The two countries have also expanded mutually beneficial cooperation in the areas of economy, trade, energy, environment, culture, counter-terrorism, and law enforcement.
China and the United States are now each other's second largest trading partner. The two-way trade between the two countries is expected to top 380 billion U.S. dollars in 2010. China has been the fastest-growing major export market of the United States for nine consecutive years.
Contacts and exchange of visits between the two peoples have also increased in a broad and in-depth manner. Today, around 120,000 Chinese students are studying in the United States and more than 20,000 American students are studying in China.
The two countries have maintained effective coordination on regional hotspot issues such as the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue and South Asia, and on global issues including climate change, the Group of 20, the United Nations reform, and the fight against transnational crimes.
However, the development of Sino-U.S. relations is not always smooth. Issues related to Taiwan, Tibet, RMB exchange rate and trade have become obstacles to the stable and healthy development of the bilateral ties in recent years.
Addressing the Second Lanting Forum in Beijing last Friday, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said: "Some of the issues between China and the United States have been there for a long time and are of great importance. The most important and most sensitive of these is the Taiwan issue, an issue that concerns China's core interests of sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the political foundation of China-U.S. relations."
He said that there are also structural issues between China and the United States that are a result of their different social systems, historical and cultural backgrounds and development levels.
"We also have disagreements over specific issues due to diverging interests in certain areas or lack of effective communication and coordination," he said.
All these issues and disagreements need to be "appropriately managed so as to maintain the sustained, sound and steady development of China-U.S. relations," Cui said.
In Washington, President Hu will also meet some members of the U.S. Congress and business leaders.
From Washington, the Chinese leader will travel to Chicago to continue his state visit.
"We have good reason to believe that with the efforts of both sides, President Hu's state visit will forcefully move forward the positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-U.S relationship in the new era," said Chinese Foreign Minister Yang at the luncheon hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Jan. 6.
Hu paid his first state visit to the United States in April 2006.