Chinese officials will be watching closely to see how great a stage Obama offers to his fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The Chinese want to know: How long will the meeting last? Will the first lady attend? Will the White House put out a written statement or answer questions about the visit at daily press briefings? Will cameras be allowed to film any part of the encounter?
China's feelings matter because the Obama administration needs Beijing's help to confront nuclear standoffs in Iran and North Korea, to fight climate change and to boost the world's economy.
With China in mind, the White House appears to be opting for a low-key meeting. There is unlikely to be a joint public appearance or photo opportunity before reporters.