The Chinese vice-president has said his country had made tremendous progress on human rights over the past 30 years but acknowledged that there was room for improvement.

Xi Jinping, who is expected to become his country's next president, was speaking after a meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington.

Mr Obama sought to reassure Mr Xi that Washington welcomed China's "peaceful rise".

But President Obama also signalled that frictions remain, with growing economic and military rivalry between the two countries, and admonished China over its opposition to UN action on Syria.

Mr Xi said he looked forward to building a "co-operative partnership based on mutual respect" but did not address Mr Obama's criticism in their joint appearance before reporters.

Mr Obama has assumed a tougher tone with China in recent months, and is under election-year pressure from Republican presidential candidates, who say his approach has been too conciliatory.

The meeting with the US leader was the centrepiece of a heavily-scripted visit that could help the Chinese vice-president boost his international standing and show he is capable of steering his country's relationship with Washington for the next decade.

Mr Xi is due to visit Ireland at the weekend.