Defense Minister Liang Guanglie began a landmark six-day visit to the United States on Friday, which experts say will help reduce misunderstandings between the world's two largest economies and major military powers.
Liang, the first Chinese defense minister to visit the US in nine years, will meet US counterpart Leon Panetta on Monday.
The defense minister's visit follows a day after meeting James Miller, US acting under secretary of defense for policy, in Beijing amid tense bilateral relations.
Poor Sino-US military relations, in particular, have been a thorn in bilateral relations, said Jin Canrong, deputy dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China. "It lags behind economic, political and cultural relations (between China and the US). If it can be improved, it will benefit the stability of Sino-US relations as a whole," he said.
"The Defense Minister's visit is projected to deepen trust and reduce misgivings on both sides," Jin said.
On Thursday at the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue, President Hu Jintao said that Beijing and Washington should escape from the outdated belief that major powers are destined to clash with one another.
The lack of mutual respect and trust between the two nations may lead to difficulties in resolving the issues in Iran, the Korean Peninsula and Syria, as well as the ongoing standoff between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea, said Jiang Chunliang, a researcher at the PLA Academy of Military Sciences.
Liang's meetings with top military officials in Washington are significant in facilitating high-level communications, particularly at a time when reducing tensions and conflicts between China and the US are imperative to safeguarding global peace, Jiang said.
Liang is expected to further discuss Beijing's stance on the South China Sea during his US visit, said Shi Yinhong, head of the Center for American Studies of Renmin University.
The defense minister will also visit Naval Base San Diego, US Southern Command in Florida, Fort Benning in Georgia, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, West Point academy and other military sites.
In the US, Pentagon spokesman George Little said earlier that Liang's visit will help to "further strengthen our military relation and contacts with the Chinese".
It "follows on the heels of Vice-President Xi's recent visit to the Pentagon and we believe this is an important point on the trajectory of increased cooperation with our Chinese counterparts", he said.
Panetta is also due to make a trip to Beijing "in a not too distant future", Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
Military relations between China and the US soured after the Obama administration announced plans to sell $6.4 billion worth of arms to Taiwan in January 2010. A US deal to sell $5.85 billion in military hardware to the island in September 2011 again disrupted Sino-US military relations.
In late April, the White House again pledged to give "serious consideration" to sell new F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan.