President Hu Jintao was expected to begin a state visit to Australia today. He is set to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and wrap up energy and mineral resources deals.
He was scheduled to arrive in Perth later today and attend a banquet hosted by Western Australia's Premier Alan Carpenter.
He was due to meet Australian Governor-General Michael Jeffery, in Canberra, tomorrow.
Hu will also see Australian Prime Minister John Howard and discuss growing bilateral ties, plus sign agreements on trade, justice and technology.
China has overtaken Japan as Australia's biggest trading partner, according to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
It said Australia's trade with China was worth US$41.4 billion in the 12 months to July, while trade with Japan was $40.7 billion.
It is the first time in 36 years Japan has failed to top the list of Australia's trading partners.
At the APEC leaders' meeting in Sydney, Hu is expected to outline an initiative on the sustainable management of forests, in a bid to rein in climate change.
Another topic likely to be raised at the 15th economic leaders' informal meeting includes restarting the stalled Doha Round of global trade liberalization talks.
Hu is also expected to hold meetings on the sidelines of APEC with leaders from the United States, Russia and Japan.
Agencies quoted US President George W. Bush's adviser on Asia as saying Bush is expected to re-affirm Washington's one-China policy and its opposition to Taiwan joining the UN.