Washington, Jan 21 (Agencies): Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday warned the United States not to press on Taiwan and Tibet as he insisted that the rising Asian power sought cooperation.

A day after a gala dinner at the White House, Hu had a frostier reception as he visited Capitol Hill where top US lawmakers pressed him on economic and human rights concerns including the jailing of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Hu afterward delivered a speech to US business and political leaders in which he urged "mutual respect" and said: "The China-US relationship is not one in which one side's gain means the other one's loss."

The Chinese leader said that Taiwan and Tibet "concern China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and they represent China's core interests."

"A review of the history of our relations tells us that US-China relations will enjoy smooth and steady growth when the two countries handle well issues involving each other's major interests," Hu said.

"Otherwise our relations will suffer constant trouble or even tension," he warned.

Beijing considers Taiwan, a self-governing island founded by China's defeated nationalists, and Tibet, a largely Buddhist territory where China sent troops in 1950, to be integral parts of the country.

President Barack Obama, at a joint news conference with Hu on Wednesday, reaffirmed the US position that Taiwan and Tibet are part of China.

But he also urged China to engage with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is widely popular in the United States, and recommitted the United States to helping Taiwan defend itself against China's growing military.

The United States and its allies, particularly Japan, have repeatedly voiced concern about China's double-digit growth in defense spending. China tested a stealth fighter this month just as US Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited.

Hu dismissed worries, saying: "We do not engage in arms races or pose a military threat to any country. China will never seek hegemony or pursue an expansionist policy."

However, much of Hu's speech was conciliatory. He urged cooperation between the world's largest developed and developing nations on issues from reviving the moribund Doha trade liberalisation talks to fighting climate change.

"China and the United States should pursue global cooperation as partners to fulfill common responsibilities and meet common challenges," Hu said.