Hu says China not seeking arms race or domination
Chinese President Hu Jintao has said China has no interest in pursuing an arms race or exerting military dominance over other nations.
On the third day of his visit to the US, Mr Hu called for co-operation on economic and security issues.
Mr Hu met leading US politicians and was quizzed on a number of issues, before departing for Chicago.
There he joined Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and other business and political leaders for a dinner in his honour.
Mr Daley, who has been in office for 22 years, has visited China four times since 2004 and has promoted Chicago, America's third-largest city, as a global transportation hub with a large and capable manufacturing sector.
Speaking at the dinner, Mr Hu said: "Despite the great distance between Chicago and China, our hearts are linked together by friendship."
Mr Daley said Chicago's long-range goal was to be "the most China-friendly city in the US".
Chicago is Mr Hu's only stop in the US outside the US capital. On Friday, he will visit a Chinese language and cultural centre based in the city.
'No military threat'
In a speech earlier at a Washington DC lunch with senior US officials and business leaders from firms like General Electric, Coca-cola and Boeing, Mr Hu pledged China would "remain committed to the path of peaceful development".
He said: "We do not engage in arms races, we are not a military threat to any country. China will never seek to dominate or pursue an expansionist policy."
The Chinese leader said the relationship between the US and China had historically enjoyed "smooth and steady growth" when the two nations considered each other's interests.
He repeatedly touched on issues that sharply divide the US and China during his speech, saying the two nations must treat each other as equals based on "mutual respect".
The Chinese president then moved his attention toward concerns US leaders have expressed over China's influence in the rest of Asia.
"Taiwan and Tibet-related issues concern Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity," Mr Hu said, adding that they "touch upon the national sentiments of 1.3 billion Chinese".
The Chinese government is currently in control of Tibet and considers the self-governing island of Taiwan, which separated from China amid civil war in 1949, to be part of its territory.
Earlier on Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner, a leading Republican, said he had raised the need for tougher intellectual property protections and improved human rights at a meeting with Mr Hu on Capitol Hill.
In a statement, Mr Boehner said he had also voiced concerns about "curtailing the aggressive behaviour of North Korea".
Congressional lawmakers have also been critical of China's policy on its currency, the yuan, charging that Beijing keeps it artificially depressed in order to aid China's exporters.
The Chinese president held separate talks with Mr Boehner and Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader.
Both Mr Boehner and Mr Reid turned down invitations to Wednesday's White House state dinner for Mr Hu, with Mr Reid going so far as to call Mr Hu "a dictator" in an interview with KSNV television, before retracting the remark.
Mr Hu said on Wednesday that China still needed to do "a lot" over human rights, following a meeting at the White House with US President Barack Obama.
Newly released figures show China's GDP grew by a faster-than-expected 10.3% in 2010.
Mr Hu and Mr Obama, who has said the yuan's value must be driven by the market, said they would co-operate on the dispute over China's currency.
Meanwhile, Vice-President Joe Biden told reporters on Thursday that the increase in value of China's yuan had not been enough.
"There has been movement. Not enough," Mr Biden told reporters, adding that the Chinese have shown they recognise the issue.
Following their talks on Wednesday, the president announced business deals with China that he said would create thousands of jobs inside the US.
BBC economics correspondent Andrew Walker said that at current growth rates, China could surpass the US as the world's largest economy during the next decade - although average living standards will still be much lower.
Mr Obama said on Wednesday that China was a target for American exports, which support nearly a half a million US jobs.
Since 2005, US politicians have threatened legislation that would impose duties on Chinese goods to offset currency policies they say keep China's exports artificially cheap.
- The US buys far more than it sells to China - the US claims this is because China has kept its currency artificially weak. In fact trade with China accounts for 14.3% of all US trade - the States only does more trade with Canada.
- Until the 1990s, the US economy grew strongly while China remained relatively stagnant. Since 2000 China's growth rate has surged, driven by economic reforms, a huge workforce and massive investment.
- The US defence budget is the biggest in the world at around $700bn. China has the second largest - but its official military budget has soared since 1999 as the country's economy has grown.
- China is the most populous country in the world ahead of India and the US. Its huge population has helped drive economic growth but it has also put huge stress on resources and air and water pollution are big problems.