High-ranking government officials from the world's largest economies gathered in Beijing on Monday for the two-day U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), an annual meeting to address bilateral and regional issues. But this edition could take on a different tone from previous years.
The 2016 event will be the last under President Barack Obama, so analysts believe Washington will likely steer discussions towards areas with a higher success rate for signed agreements instead of politically sensitive subjects that are unlikely to produce any policy action.
"The S&ED is a place where the U.S. wants to go home with a long list of accomplishments to show American people what they've achieved," explained Scott Kennedy, director of the project on Chinese Business and Political Economy at The Center of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
"There's a tendency at these high-level events to come out with concrete deliverables, there's always political pressure on both sides," echoed Damien Ma, fellow and associate director at U.S. think tank The Paulson Institute.
In Monday's opening remarks, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the need for both heavyweight economies to establish "fundamental, strategic, mutual trust," the South China Morning Post reported. "There is no reason to be scared of having differences, the key is not to adopt a confrontational attitude towards any differences," Xi was quoted as saying.
Currency volatility has traditionally been a headliner at the S&ED in previous years, with Washington long accusing Beijing of pushing the renminbi lower to increase trade competitiveness. This year, that may not be the case.