China and the United States are vastly different countries with distinct cultures and traditions, he said. "It's only normal we have some differences."
The Chinese leader was introduced by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who as an envoy for President Richard Nixon was instrumental in opening formal ties between the two countries in 1974.
Kissinger said normalizing U.S.-Chinese relations "after so many years of separation did shake the world."
Now, Kissinger said, "we are working to build a world, not shake it."
Hu was headed next to Chicago, where he was to dine with retiring Mayor Richard Daley, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and business leaders Thursday evening. He will also visit a Chinese language and cultural center at a high school and a Chinese auto parts producer during his two-day visit.