WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will host Chinese President Xi Jinping for his first US state visit on Friday, but the pomp and pageantry will not be enough to mask tensions over alleged Chinese cyber spying, Beijing's economic policies and territorial disputes with its neighbors.
US and Chinese officials hope to launch the summit on a positive note by showcasing at least one area of cooperation - the global fight against climate change - when they announce a deal to build on a landmark emissions agreement struck last year.
But that achievement is all but certain to be overshadowed by major points of disagreement that underscore a growing rivalry between the world's two biggest economic powers.
Xi's state visit will formally begin at 9 am EDT/1300 GMT on Friday with a welcome ceremony on the White House South Lawn, including a 21-gun salute, followed by Oval Office talks, a joint news conference and a black-tie state dinner.
Despite such ceremonial honors, the Chinese Communist leader - coming to Washington on the heels of Pope Francis - can expect nothing like the wall-to-wall US news coverage given the popular pontiff who drew adoring crowds wherever he went.
In diplomatic terms as well, no major policy breakthroughs are expected on the big issues that divide the two countries.