The new Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping, has called for "renewed impetus" to be given to Sino-US relations as he set the tone for the relationship in a meeting with former US president Jimmy Carter in Beijing on Thursday.
Xi called on the world's two most powerful nations to "accumulate positive energy" in developing their ties.
"Both China and the United States should be innovative and make efforts to accumulate positive energy to build a China-US co-operative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit," Xinhua quoted Xi as telling Carter.
"Positive energy" is a term used by mainland internet users to refer to giving renewed impetus to something.
"They should also create a new type of bilateral ties between major powers, regardless of difficulties," Xi said.
Analysts interpreted Xi's remark as an effort to achieve a breakthrough in the troubled ties between the world's largest and second-largest economies and set the tone for years to come under his leadership. Xi will succeed Hu Jintao as president in March.
Tao Wenzhao, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' American Research Institute, said: "It suggests the new leader's keen interest to seek a breakthrough in ties by setting the tone for the relationship for the next decade."
It was Xi's first meeting with a senior American political figure since he took over from Hu as party general secretary and chairman of the Central Military Commission after the party's national congress last month.
Tao said: "Basically what Xi told Carter does not suggest any significant change of China's US foreign policy, as he also made similar remarks during his visit to the US early this year."
Jin Canrong, associate dean of Renmin University's school of international relations, said: "Like any new leader, Xi Jinping might be keen to seek a fresh breakthrough in Sino-US relations. But basically, China's foreign policy and US diplomacy will continue to go ahead along the same track."
China and the US established diplomatic ties in 1979, during Carter's one-term presidency.
The meeting was also the first between political figures from the two nations since US President Barack Obama's re-election last month. Xi said China was looking forward to enhancing the two countries' mechanisms for bilateral talks.
China and the US have become each other's second-largest trade partners. But they are at odds over a raft of issues, including the yuan's value, human rights and Taiwan. They are also suspicious of each other's strategic intentions.