When Barack Obama took the presidential oath of office on January 20, 2009, US-China relations were probably not foremost on his mind. Obama’s campaign promise of “hope and change” had largely focused on domestic issues, with promises of bipartisanship and a renewal of the floundering US economy. The election of the first African-American president was an historic event itself, one that seemed to suggest the United States had begun a new era of racial inclusion and harmony.