Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signs a guest book with Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General of Association of South East Asia Nations during a meeting in Jakarta on September 4, 2012. Clinton heads next to Beijing. - 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads to Beijing today as part of a 12-day swing through Asia. She'll be in China for two days of talks and her visit comes amid a slowdown in the Chinese economy and an uptick in economic tensions between China and the U.S.

Nicholas Lardy is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He said Secretary Clinton will have plenty on her plate these two days.

"On the economic front it basically comes down to a range of trade issues," Lardy said. "There had been quite a bit of concern about the value of its currency over recent years but the Chinese have allowed their currency to appreciate quite a bit."

The U.S. and China have a bunch of disputes at the World Trade Organization. Among them the U.S. says China is subsidizing and dumping solar panels onto the world market. And the Chinese are peeved that the U.S.is going after them so aggressively at the WTO.

Jonathan Pollack is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "This seems to me to be a period of real unease in the U.S. China relationship," Pollack said.

Both countries face political uncertainty, and both are under serious economic strain. At the same time a wave of nationalism across asia and territorial disputes also complicate the relationship.