US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has met China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, in Hawaii in what Beijing described as a "constructive dialogue," amid a deep deterioration of ties between the world's two top economies.
The countries have been at loggerheads over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic and China's move to impose new security legislation on Hong Kong, among the latest flare-ups in years of escalating tensions.
In the meeting, Pompeo stressed "the need for fully-reciprocal dealings between the two nations across commercial, security, and diplomatic interactions," US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
"He also stressed the need for full transparency and information sharing to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and prevent future outbreaks."
Beijing said the two sides agreed to continue engagement.
"Both sides fully articulated their countries' respective positions, and believe that this was a constructive dialogue. Both sides agreed to take action to implement the consensus reached by leaders of both countries," China's Xinhua news agency said.
As the meeting in Honolulu got under way on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump signed legislation calling for sanctions against those responsible for repression of Uighur Muslims in China's Xinjiang region.
Separately, foreign ministers of the G7 countries, including Pompeo, issued a statement calling on China not to follow through with the Hong Kong legislation.
Tensions have risen also over China's neighbour North Korea and its nuclear weapons program.
Experts say US-China relations have reached their lowest point in years, and in mid-May Trump, who has pursued a deal to end a damaging trade war he launched with China, went so far as to suggest he could cut ties with Beijing.
The bill Trump signed calls for sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for oppressing Uighur Muslims, including on one of Yang's colleagues on China's powerful Politburo.
Trump tempered that possibility with a signing statement saying that some of the bill's sanctions requirements might limit his constitutional authority as president to conduct diplomacy so he would regard them as advisory, not mandatory.
While Trump and his administration have stepped up rhetoric against China in the run-up to the November US election, his former national security adviser, John Bolton, said on Wednesday the president sought Chinese President Xi Jinping's help to win re-election during a closed-door June 2019 meeting.
Bolton's accusations are part of a book that the US government on Tuesday sued to block him from publishing, arguing it contained classified information and would compromise national security.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a congressional hearing that Chinese officials had repeatedly affirmed their commitment to buy more US goods and services under a Phase 1 trade deal signed in January and that some $US10 billion in purchases had been recorded thus far.
Among his criticisms of China, Pompeo has said it could have prevented hundreds of thousands of deaths from the global coronavirus pandemic by being more transparent, and accused it of refusing to share information.
Australian Associated Press