The installation of a new generation of leaders in China, albeit still incomplete, provides an opportunity for change in the Sino-American relationship, now that U.S. President Barack Obama has been re-elected.

Both countries recognize that the bilateral relationship needs a new anchor. China has called for a "new type of relationship with other major countries in the 21st century" while the United States has defined the task, in the words of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as trying to "write a new answer to the question of what happens when an established power and a rising power meet."

Clinton posed the question as a need to balance competition between the two powers and cooperation where their interests coincide. China has made it clear that the "new type of relationship" means a sharing of power, with the U.S. making room for China.