In China's carefully choreographed diplomatic calendar, the itinerary of the president's first overseas trip can send signals about his long-term strategic goals.

In 2017, Xi Jinping opened with a speech at the World Economic Forum defending globalization from criticism by U.S. President Donald Trump. A year earlier, he became the first major world leader to visit Iran after international sanctions were lifted. This year, Xi's first state visit will be to conflict-torn Myanmar.

While the European Union and the U.S. have criticized Myanmar for what the United Nations has called genocidal acts against its minority Rohingya population, China, which often faces scrutiny over its own human rights record, is continuing its role as a vocal supporter.