Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is set to arrive in Washington Monday for a five-day visit, which analysts said would set the tone for Sino-US relations in the next decade.
Xi will meet with US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden tomorrow. He will also hold talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
On Wednesday, Xi will go to Capitol Hill to meet senior US senators and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner.
The two nations have recently been involved in diplomatic spats over Syria as Washington and its allies criticized China and Russia for vetoing a draft UN Security Council resolution on Syria.
Beijing has also disagreed with sharpening global sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
Issues such as US arms sales to Taiwan, conditions in the South China Sea and trade disputes are also expected to be touched on during the visit.
Analysts noted that the two sides are unlikely to make compromises on these long-standing issues during Xi's visit, and their discussions on these topics would be mere exchanges of views.
Wu Xinbo, a deputy director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times that Xi's visit will set the tone for future Sino-US relations, although he expects few breakthroughs.
"The trip comes before the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October, and will provide Xi with first-hand information about the US. It will also be a good opportunity for the US to learn more about Xi," Wu said.
Jin Canrong, an American studies expert at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that the priority of Xi's visit is to send a positive signal to US politicians that their Chinese counterparts are willing to seek solutions to challenges facing Sino-US ties.
"China and the US share many common interests, but also have a number of long-standing disputes. Xi's visit will demonstrate Beijing's willingness to strengthen Sino-US ties regardless of those challenges," Jin said.
He added that the trip would provide a good opportunity for Xi to build a relationship with US leaders, as well as other people in different fields.
Danny Russel, senior director at the National Security Council for Asia, told Reuters that the White House would be "striking a good balance between the formal and the informal but also a good balance between the protocol and the substance."
"Beyond protocol, we are doing Xi and China the courtesy of taking them seriously on substance," he said, adding that US officials would not pull punches on human rights or other tough issues for the sake of smooth talks.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of former US president Richard Nixon's visit to China and the publication of the Shanghai Communique between the two sides, which marked the beginning of their diplomatic ties.
After Washington, Xi will go to Iowa and reunite with a family in Muscatine with whom he stayed in 1985 when he was an official of Hebei Province, Iowa's sister province in China.
Terry Branstad, the current governor of Iowa, who was also governor during Xi's earlier visit, told Reuters that he considered the Chinese vice president an "old friend" and added that Xi's visit was part reunion and part business opportunity for the soybean- and corn-exporting state.
In his final stop in Los Angeles, Xi will visit the Port of Los Angeles and attend with his US counterpart Biden the China/US Economic and Trade Forum, which will be attended by US business officials and governors of all 50 states.
"Accompanied by a 500-member trade delegation, Xi's visit is going to announce a slew of orders from Chinese enterprises, which will set a favorable atmosphere for the trip," Tao Wenzhao, a researcher at the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.
"China, in return, wants the US to remove hurdles for high-tech trade and improve the investment environment for Chinese companies in the US," Tao said.
"Compared with the three-year consecutive increase of Chinese investment in Canada and the drop in the US last year, I think it's time for the US to act more practically and carry out a more mutually beneficial policy in the face of dim economic prospects," Wu noted.
Xi will leave the US on Friday for trips in Ireland and Turkey.
Agencies also contributed to this story