Chinese President Hu Jintao headed to the United States on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported, for a visit that comes at a time of tension and stress in Sino-US relations.
Hu was to begin the visit in Washington with a private dinner on Tuesday evening in the White House residence, hosted by US President Barack Obama and to be attended by only a few senior officials from each side.
Obama will then lay on the pageantry of a state visit on Wednesday, including talks in the Oval Office and a state dinner, before Hu heads to Chicago for talks with business leaders.
The visit will end on Friday.
Chinese state media reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources, that a series of deals was expected to be signed during the visit, including the sale of Boeing aircraft to China, where the aviation sector is booming.