WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao said here Wednesday that his state visit to the United States is aimed at increasing mutual trust, enhancing friendship, deepening cooperation and pushing forward the positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-U.S. relationship for the 21st century.
"I hope that through this visit, our two countries will advance the positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship and open a new chapter in our cooperation as partners," Hu said at a welcome ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.
Hu and U.S. President Barack Obama stood on a small stage with Chinese and U.S. flags as the national anthem of China, then U.S. national anthem being played.
Hu, who was greeted by Obama and his wife upon his arrival at the White House, was to hold talks with Obama shortly after the ceremony, the eighth meeting between the two leaders in two years.
The two leaders inspected the honor guard and then walked a short distance to shake hands with visitors.
The two presidents watched as a pipe and drum unit marched by dressed in colonial era uniforms. The unit played Yankee Doodle, among other selections.
Both countries "share broad common interests and important common responsibilities" and should adopt a long-term perspective and seek common ground while reserving differences, Hu told Obama.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were present at the ceremony.
The Chinese president's state visit was widely deemed as crucial for future development of relations between the two countries. As China's global influence mounts and profound changes reshape the world, China-U.S. relations bear far-reaching significance to the two countries and the world at large.
Hu has been welcomed with pomp-filled ceremonies since he stepped on American soil Tuesday.
He was greeted on arrival at Andrews Air Force Base Tuesday by Vice President Joe Biden, and a small private dinner with Obama followed at the White House in honor of the visiting Chinese leader.
An opulent state dinner, the grandest of White House soirees, was planned for Wednesday evening in Hu's honor.
The setting reflects the rising significance of the relationship between China, the world's largest developing country, and the United States, the world's largest developed nation.
"Our cooperation as partners should be based on mutual respect...on mutual benefit," Hu said at the welcome ceremony.
China and the United States should respect each other's choice of development path and core interests, and seek to learn from each other through exchanges and achieve win-win progress through cooperation, Hu said.
Cooperation as partners between the two sides should also be based on joint efforts to meet challenges and the extensive involvement of the people, Hu added.
The Chinese president pointed out that to pursue peace, development and cooperation is the irresistible trend of our time.
Welcoming China's rise "as a strong, prosperous member" of the community of nations, Obama said the U.S. and China "have an enormous stake in each other's success."
"Nations including our own will be more prosperous and secure when we work together," Obama said.
"We learn from our people. Chinese students and educators, including the Chinese Americans here today, work together to make progress every day. We can cooperate in a spirit of mutual respect for our mutual benefit," Obama said.
During Hu's stay in the United States, Chinese officials said, Hu also was scheduled to meet people from various walks of life in the United States, and would take the opportunity to elaborate on China's domestic and foreign policies and on how to advance his country's ties with the United States in the new era.
The two countries were expected to sign a package of cooperation documents during Hu's visit and announce a host of new cooperation projects in a variety of sectors, including economy, trade, energy, environmental protection, infrastructure development, and science and technology.
The Obama administration has attached great importance to Hu's visit, emphasizing the rising importance of American cooperation with China.
"President Hu's visit will highlight the importance of expanding cooperation between the United States and China on bilateral, regional, and global issues, as well as the friendship between peoples of our two countries," the White House said in a statement when announcing the visit last month.
"The president looks forward to welcoming President Hu to Washington to continue building a partnership that advances our common interests and addresses our shared concerns," the statement said.
After their talks on Wednesday, Hu and Obama were to meet with U.S. and Chinese business leaders at the White House to discuss ways to expand trade and investment opportunities between China and the United States.
Since Obama took office two years ago, the overall development of China-U.S. relations has been stable despite some friction between the two countries.
Hu and Obama agreed to build a "positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-U.S. relationship for the 21st century" during their first meeting in London in April 2009.
In November 2009, Obama paid a state visit to China, during which the two sides reiterated that they were "committed to building a positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-U.S. relationship for the 21st century, and will take concrete actions to steadily build a partnership to address common challenges."
China and the United States are now each other's second largest trading partner. Two-way trade is expected to top 380 billion U.S. dollars in 2010. China has been the United States' fastest-growing major export market for nine consecutive years.
In a written interview with The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal Monday, Hu said: "We both stand to gain from a sound China-U.S. relationship, and lose from confrontation."
"Both sides should keep to the right direction in the development of our relations, increase exchanges, enhance mutual trust, seek common ground while reserving differences, properly manage differences and sensitive issues and jointly promote the long-term, sound and steady development of China-U.S. relations," he said.
Hu, who is on his first state visit to the United States since Obama took office, will travel to Chicago on Thursday and wrap up his visit on Friday.