Top Obama national security aide to visit China

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama's top national security aide will visit Beijing next week, with tensions between the Pacific powers aggravated by an incident between their air forces over the South China Sea.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice will be in China September 7-9 for what the White House said will be consultations with senior Beijing figures, including State Councillor Yang Jiechi, China's leading official for foreign affairs.

Her trip will come before Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping potentially come face to face at the UN General Assembly later this month and meet again at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in China in November.

US-Chinese relations have been rattled in recent months by a string of incidents, including the moment last week when Washington said a Chinese fighter jet buzzed a US surveillance plane in international airspace off Hainan Island.

Allegations of Chinese cyber hacking of US firms and Washington's calls on Beijing to ease territorial disputes with various nations in the South China Sea have also complicated relations.