A vendor tights a flowers deco in between of the planets shaped of China and American flags on display at a store during a Spring Carnival in Beijing on May 13, 2023. AP
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink travelled to Beijing this week -- a rare visit to China by a senior US diplomat as Washington seeks to allay tensions between the rival powers.
"The two sides conducted frank, constructive, and effective communication on promoting the improvement of Sino-US relations," China's foreign ministry said of Kritenbrink's meetings with senior Chinese officials, which took place on Monday.
The US described Kritenbrink's talks with China's Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu and diplomat Yang Tao as "candid and productive".
China said the two sides discussed "properly managing differences in accordance with the consensus reached by the two heads of state at their Bali meeting in November last year".
"Both parties agree to continue communication," its foreign ministry said.
The meeting was part of "ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and build on recent high-level diplomacy between the two countries", the US State Department said.
"The two sides exchanged views on the bilateral relationship, cross-Strait issues, channels of communication, and other matters," it added, referring to the Taiwan Strait.
But US officials also "made clear that the United States would compete vigorously and stand up for US interests and values", the statement said.
Beijing, too, said its diplomats had "clarified (China's) solemn stance on major principled issues such as Taiwan", which China claims as its territory and has vowed to retake one day, by force if necessary.
The meeting came in the face of continuing tensions between the two powers over the South China Sea as well as Taiwan and a litany of other disputes.
On Monday, the US warned that Chinese military "aggressiveness" that had caused near-collisions with US forces in the sea and in the air could soon lead to casualties.
Last week, Washington said CIA Director William Burns had made a secret trip to China in May, hoping to shore up lines of communication with Beijing.