He has been welcomed into the White House for a rare private dinner at the start of a four-day visit.
The Chinese leader is in Washington for talks with his US counterpart, and a lavish state dinner will also be held for Hu Jintao on Wednesday.
Both leaders have thorny issues to raise, including North Korea and Taiwan, as well as the sensitive subject of trade imbalances.
But they say they are determined to improve cooperation, in what some are calling the pushing of the reset button.
Experts, on the other hand, say they are not expecting any major breakthroughs on the difficult issues.
Critics of the Chinese leader, including pro-Tibet campaigners, are bristling at the pomp and ceremony he is receiving.
They are vowing to protest throughout the four-day visit.