Just days before President Barack Obama travels to China for a regional summit, a prominent, state-run paper there is accusing him of being an ineffective leader who has done an "insipid" job in office.
The editorial in the Global Times was published just hours before Obama's Democratic Party lost control of the U.S. Senate, meaning the rival Republican Party now controls both houses of Congress.
The Times, whose editorials often reflect the views of China's Communist Party, said Obama has not lived up to the expectations of his supporters and that "U.S. society has grown tired of his banality."
Obama will travel to Beijing next week for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, where he is expected to hold one-on-one meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
U.S.-China ties have been strained over issues including China's alleged human rights violations, Asian maritime disputes, economic issues, and accusations by both sides of cyber espionage.
Cyber spying concerns
U.S. officials on Tuesday said Obama will use the talks with Xi to relay concerns about what Washington says is Beijing's cyber spying on American government and business targets.
The U.S. earlier this year charged five Chinese military officers with stealing trade secrets from major American nuclear, metal and solar companies. This led China to cancel regular talks with the U.S. on cyber spying.
China's ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, told Foreign Policy magazine Tuesday that Washington needs to take unspecified steps to "restore confidence" before Beijing will return to the talks.
Cui said China wants "assurance that the United States, as the most powerful and technologically advanced country in the world in information technology, will not hurt China's interest."
The ambassador said joint efforts on climate change, Ebola, counterterrorism efforts and the North Korean nuclear issue will also be on the table when Obama and Xi meet in Beijing.