US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang in Beijing at the start of two days of talks with Chinese officials.
The visit is the first by an American diplomat to China in almost five years.
US officials say the main goal of the talks is to stabilise a relationship that has become extremely tense.
It comes nearly five months after an earlier Blinken visit was postponed, following the flight of a suspected Chinese spy balloon in US airspace.
The US has been lowering expectations for the trip and both sides have made clear they do not expect any major breakthrough.
The goal, US officials say, is to reopen lines of high-level communication and stabilise relations that have become strained since the balloon incident.
China has staged military exercises near Taiwan, which Beijing views as an integral part of China. The US maintains close ties with Taiwan’s democratically-elected government.