This November, after focusing on foreign policy concerns around the globe and congressional midterm elections at home, President Barack Obama will travel to Beijing to attend the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in hopes of preserving and enhancing one of his key foreign policy achievements—the rebalance to Asia. Obama’s trip to China will be his first since 2009, and in those intervening five years the bilateral relationship has become increasingly complicated, with tensions spanning a wide range of issues from maritime disputes to cybersecurity to the pace of China’s economic reforms. While both countries agree that a “New Type of Great Power Relations" is needed, it is still not clear what such a relationship entails. President Obama’s trip to China will offer a critical opportunity to shape the U.S.-China relationship and seize on the cooperative spirit of the APEC meeting to strengthen the rebalance to Asia.
On Novemver 5, the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution hosted a full-day conference with two keynote addresses and four panels about the economic, environmental, political, and security implications of President Obama’s trip to China for the 2014 APEC summit and his interactions with President Xi Jinping.