WORLD NEWS: "U.S. and China Ease a Range of Trade Restrictions: Beijing Allows Pork Imports, Washington to Let In Chickens, as Joint Commission Resolves Some Disputes Before Obama Visit," by James T. Areddy, Wall Street Journal, 30 October 2009.
WORLD NEWS: "Beijing Slams U.S. Tariffs in Growing Clash: China Calls Washington's Import Duties on Steel Pipe 'Abusive Protectionism,' as Both Sides Launch New Trade Probes," by Aaron Back and Patricia Jiayi Ho, Wall Street Journal, 7-8 November 2009.
WORLD NEWS: "New Friction and Vast Agenda Await Obama on China Trip," by Ian Johnson, Wall Street Journal, 7-8 November 2009.
Saw recently that the U.S. is set to slap some new tariffs on Chinese steel, so don't expect the back and forth to end with Obama's visit. But to call it a "trade war," as the WSJ does in the second piece, is a bit much.
Considering that the U.S. trade imbalance with China has shrunken from over $250B last year to about $150B this year, it's only natural that there is plenty of back and forth, with both sides putting on quite the show. To manage such a drop without a trade fight exploding out of control is a key "dog that did not bark" for Obama's first year.
But yeah, expect all sorts of sparks to continue. Compared to Bush, who frankly did not push the Chinese on anything, Obama will be less popular inside China, given the current agenda of "rebalancing."
As David Shambaugh argues in the third piece, this is the first summit where the dominant issues to be addressed aren't just bilateral but truly global. So, again, expect more friction as the relationship elevates in a big way this time around.