Chinese President Hu Jintao told reporters ahead of his visit here this week that relations between the U.S. and China have "on the whole enjoyed steady growth" over the past 10 years.

In response to questions from The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, the Chinese leader added that the two nations should expand their trade and economic cooperation into areas like new energy, infrastructure development and aviation and space, the Journal reports.

"We should abandon the zero-sum Cold War mentality," Hu said, and "respect each other's choice of development path."

"We both stand to gain from a sound China-U.S. relationship, and lose from confrontation," he added.

The Chinese president's three-day visit, which starts Tuesday, comes at a time when the U.S. faces growing challenges in its relations with Asia's economic giant, from trade to defense to human rights.

The U.S. has long criticized what it views as an undervalued Chinese currency that makes U.S. exports more expensive. Hu in the interview defended Chinese monetary policy and took shots at the federal reserve's bond purchases, saying the fed's decisions have "a major impact on global liquidity and capital flows and therefore, the liquidity of the U.S. dollar should be kept at a reasonable and stable level."

Hu called the U.S. dollar's role as the world's main currency a "product of the past" and called for an international financial system that is more "fair, just, inclusive and well-managed," the Journal reports.

Beyond the economy, Hu and President Obama are certain to talk about defense issues. China objects to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, while the U.S. was caught off guard when the Chinese military test flew a stealth fighter jet during Defense Secretary Robert Gates' visit last week.

Human rights are also bound to be an issue, with Obama meeting with five advocates at the White House on Thursday for the first time in his presidency.

Tellingly, Hu did not respond to the newspapers' questions about imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.

"China has made dramatic progress in economic reform and improving the lives of its people," Obama said in a statement when the prize was awarded in October. "But this award reminds us that political reform has not kept pace, and that the basic human rights of every man, woman and child must be respected. We call on the Chinese government to release Mr. Liu as soon as possible."