US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Beijing for what could be one of the last big foreign policy trips of the Obama presidency.
But it will be a tough gig with some hard talking. China has made it clear it is not prepared to budge on the key issues Mrs Clinton will want to discuss.
First, there is Syria. China has repeatedly blocked attempts at any meaningful resolutions which could have an impact on the outcome of the conflict.
China's position is clear: it opposes any intervention or interference in the domestic issues of any government.
Mrs Clinton, along with other Western nations, is frustrated by China's position. As opposition activists claim daily the loss of dozens of lives, the international community has been rendered practically impotent.
It has failed to act collectively in a significant way - hamstrung by China and Russia's power of veto at the UN Security Council.
The US secretary of state is expected to meet her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi along with China's President Hu Jintau and the man expected to lead China for the next 10 years, Xi Jinping.
There is little that can be said which has not been said before. It seems certain Mrs Clinton will get back on her aircraft without any kind of shift in position by the Chinese.
The other big issue which will dominate her visit are the island disputes in the South and East China seas. China has publically been dogged about its position that these islands are 'non-negotiable'.
It clearly resents the US trying to get involved in brokering an end to the diplomat spats which have arisen between China and the regional nations who also have claims on the islands.
The dispute over islands in the East China Sea between China and Japan has really raised its head over recent weeks. Things have become so heated there were anti-Japanese street demonstrations in at least half a dozen Chinese cities.
The Japanese ambassador had the Japanese flag ripped from his car in China and the Chinese authorities have done little to cool the anti-Japanese sentiment.
China is also at loggerheads with Vietnam and the Philippines over islands in the South China Sea.
In recent months, there has been a military build-up which has ratcheted up tensions, though in all cases nothing seems to stop China cashing-in on economic ties with its Asian neighbours.
But what really rankles the Chinese is America's involvement in a part of the world which it sees as none of the US' business.
America has made it clear it wants to shift its 'pivot' of interest to the Asia-Pacific region. So much so that it is announced it plans to have 60% of its warships stationed in the Asia-Pacific region by 2020, using bases in the Philippines and Vietnam.
This all adds up to a geostrategic rivalry in Asia which is likely to mean Mrs Clinton's Chinese visit is neither cosy nor fruitful.