"Although we have our differences, we look forward to strengthening our relationship in a way that allows us to address global economic and security issues."
On Wednesday, Hu had spent much of the day in meetings at the White House before a state dinner there. Obama, too, pressed Hu on the rights issue but said the United States should not fear China's rise. Obama announced job-creating business deals with the Asian giant worth billions of dollars to companies.
At Thursday's luncheon, Hu told the business audience that while the world was returning to growth, there remain many "unstabilizing factors" and that full recovery will be a difficult process. [See a roundup of political cartoons on the economy.]
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.
- See photos from the White House state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao.
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