Chinese President Hu Jintao has said China has no interest in pursuing an arms race or exerting military dominance over other nations.
On the third day of his visit to the US, Mr Hu called for co-operation on economic and security issues.
Mr Hu met leading US politicians and was quizzed on a number of issues, before departing for Chicago.
There he joined Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and other business and political leaders for a dinner in his honour.
Mr Daley, who has been in office for 22 years, has visited China four times since 2004 and has promoted Chicago, America’s third-largest city, as a global transportation hub with a large and capable manufacturing sector.
Speaking at the dinner, Mr Hu said: “Despite the great distance between Chicago and China, our hearts are linked together by friendship.”
Mr Daley said Chicago’s long-range goal was to be “the most China-friendly city in the US”.
Chicago is Mr Hu’s only stop in the US outside the US capital. On Friday, he will visit a Chinese language and cultural centre based in the city.
‘No military threat’
In a speech earlier at a Washington DC lunch with senior US officials and business leaders from firms like General Electric, Coca-cola and Boeing, Mr Hu pledged China would “remain committed to the path of peaceful development”.
He said: “We do not engage in arms races, we are not a military threat to any country. China will never seek to dominate or pursue an expansionist policy.”
The Chinese leader said the relationship between the US and China had historically enjoyed “smooth and steady growth” when the two nations considered each other’s interests.