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3 key issues at this week's U.S.-China talks

A major meeting starts in Washington on Tuesday between some top U.S. and Chinese officials. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will be taking part in the seventh annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), where they're scheduled to meet with a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu Yandong for two days of talks.

The state-run China Daily calls the S&ED meetings a way "to set the table for a positive state visit by President Xi Jinping to the United States in September."

The U.S. State Department says the S&ED will focus on "addressing the challenges and opportunities that both countries face on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global areas of immediate and long-term economic and strategic interest."

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The talks are expected to cover a wide array of issues, but several economic topics in particular analysts say are worth noting and that could have wide-ranging impacts on U.S.-Chinese relations:

Cybertheft

U.S. officials recently accused hackers in China of breaching sensitive American intelligence and military personnel data. While the intrusion exposes serious flaws in the U.S. government's defenses against cyberattacks, the former head of the FBI's cybersecurity branch recently told CBS News that Chinese hackers have been targeting the U.S. commercial sector, seeking access to data regarding research and development, as well as commercial property.

China has denied involvement in any such cyberattacks. A spokesman at Beijing's embassy in Washington, D.C., recently called such accusations "not responsible and counterproductive."

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Globalization

Given the 24/7 nature of international trade and the interdependence of the Chinese and U.S. economies, "it is utterly ironic that China and the United States, the two greatest beneficiaries of economic globalization, are seemingly building separate economic blocs," says Cheng Li, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution.

China recently established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in a move many analysts see as a direct challenge to U.S.-dominated economic institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Another concern is that after decades of historic growth, China's economy is slowing down just as the U.S. economy appears to be regaining its momentum. And many China-watchers are questioning Beijing's current GDP numbers as well.

"The official numbers are understating the severity of the downturn," Patrick Chovanec, chief strategist at Silvercrest Asset Management in New York, told the Dallas Morning News. "A lot of analysts will tell you that, and it is pretty widely known."

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Geopolitics

China has been raising tensions in Southeast Asia as it ratchets up its claims on the South China Sea, while also building military outposts on reclaimed land in international waters near economically important international shipping lanes.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, about half of global oil tanker shipments pass through the South China Sea, while five of the world's top 10 ports are located in the region.

Earlier this month, President Obama called on China to stop "throwing elbows and pushing people out of the way" in their attempts to prove their claims on the disputed territory are legitimate.

Clearly, the delegates from both nations have plenty to discuss this week.

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