Obama and Xi Should Compare Notes on Political Reform and Domestic Challenges

Editor’s Note: In this opinion piece, Cheng Li and Ryan McElveen write that President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping should open their discussions this week by sharing their plans for political reform and resolving pressing domestic challenges. See an excerpt below, and

read the full opinion at


In contrast to the 2002 farewell summit between President George W. Bush and outgoing Chinese President Jiang Zemin at Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, this week’s talks between Barack Obama and Xi Jinping in California mark the first time in history that a U.S. president will host a series of informal meetings with a new Chinese leader.

While issues such as North Korea, cybersecurity and the economy will likely dominate their discussions, what really matters is whether Xi and Obama can establish a trusting personal relationship that will help both leaders overcome stark policy differences.

As charismatic leaders who view themselves as transformational figures, what better way to start the conversation than to outline their aspirations and plans for resolving pressing domestic matters?

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