Xi Jinping stirred controversy at home with his remark to Barack Obama that the "Chinese dream is connected to the American dream".
The "Chinese dream" has become a pet phrase of Xi's since he unveiled his vision of rule in the coming decade after being named head of the Communist Party in November.
"To realise the renaissance of the Chinese nation is the greatest dream for the Chinese nation in modern history," he said.
And in a speech made after being installed as president at the end of the annual parliamentary session in March, Xi mentioned the phrase nine times.
The phrase grabbed attention at home and abroad, and was regarded as an attempt by Xi to boost his popularity by appealing to nationalism, raising fears that China would become aggressive.
Xi reassured Obama that China would remain true to the path of peaceful development, but added that "China will work hard to realise the Chinese dream of a great national renewal".
The "Chinese dream" would lead to the promotion of co-operation, development and peace, Xi said, while enabling a more prosperous China. "It is connected to the American dream and the beautiful dreams people in other countries may have."
Xi's remarks contrasted sharply with an online commentary in the party mouthpiece People's Daily that said the Chinese dream was in fact "completely different" from the American one.
The commentary said the Chinese people strive for the prosperity of the nation, while Americans focus on individual wealth. Chinese people can only depend on their own strength to realise their dreams, it said, while Americans can use the resources of other nations.
The American dream, People's Daily added, "is to maintain the status quo and not tolerate any power that challenges it".
Xi's remarks sparked a lively discussion among mainland internet users, with one microblogger saying the two dreams were "connected because Chinese people dream of going to the US".
Another sarcastic microblog post said: "The Americans will suffer disaster if the Chinese nightmare dream is connected to the American dream."
Some other microblog users asked whether People's Daily should retract the editorial.