Dozens of supporters, protesters and spectators lined the streets in Palm Beach County Thursday as they awaited the arrival of President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trump repeatedly slammed China on the campaign trail for making unfair trade deals, even accusing China of "raping" the U.S.
What President Trump may refer to as "the art of the deal", his guest at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday and Friday - Chinese President Xi Jinping - might call "win-win cooperation".
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross joined Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on the flight to Palm Beach, and were set to join Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for the meeting with their Chinese counterparts.
Xi Jinping meets Trump for the first time at his Florida resort of Mar-a-Lago for two days of meetings, with a range of hard points up for discussion-including North Korea, trade deals, and the South China Sea shipping access.
But coming to an agreement on the issue will not be easy, according to Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
"Xi goes to Davos and talks about the need to open the world and we shouldn't be building walls", says Christopher Balding, an economics professor at Peking University's HSBC Business School in Shenzhen.
He may also offer Chinese assistance in Trump's infrastructure renewal plan and a stake in China's newly established infrastructure bank.
"This administration wants to see them act, and I think they're going to pressure them to do that", she said.
With Trump threatening to pull out of the Paris climate accord negotiated by the Obama administration, Xi is poised to become the world's foremost leader on climate change. The moves appeared to be a shot at China, which accounted for the vast bulk - $347 billion - of last year's $502 billion trade deficit.
The relationship between Beijing and Washington has evolved considerably over the years-but as Tsang says, "this is still the single most important bilateral relationship in the world". Chinese exports to the US totaled some $388.1 billion a year ago.
One of the most urgent issues for the United States is nuclear-armed North Korea, which fired a missile into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday. "Trump can try to spin this as a win - China commits to not manipulating its currency down".
Beijing must also help remove Kim Jong Un from power in North Korea and support a United Nations effort to send inspectors to verify the dismantling of its nuclear weapons program. China accounts for the biggest share - about $310 billion - of the overall USA trade deficit.
Some top officials in the Trump administration said China hasn't abided by previous trade commitments, so they are planning to press ahead with plans to bring major unilateral trade-enforcement cases that could hit Chinese industries with big tariffs.
Leading up to the summit, Trump escalated his attacks on China for taking U.S.jobs and contributing to the hollowing out of the USA manufacturing sector.
On the other hand, Mr. Trump's experience in complicated business negotiations could be an asset, said Ed Mermelstein, a longtime Manhattan real estate lawyer who has worked with Mr. Trump.
When it comes to clean energy investment and emissions goals, China is leading the world - but China's carbon emissions are double those of the USA and the European Union combined, says UCLA law professor Alex Wang, resulting in levels of air pollution so high, it's become a social stability problem for China's government.
The Trump White House worries Pyongyang is just months away from marrying nuclear and long-range missile technology and putting the west coast of the United States within striking distance.