Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and defence secretary James Mattis met with high-ranking Beijing policymakers in Washington to resolve ongoing tensions. Mr Pompeo condemned China for building military installations on artificial islands in the South China Sea. Beijing officials attacked the White House for sending warships and planes close to the islands, which are claimed by China.
The talks come ahead of Donald Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping as part of the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of November.
Mr Trump has accused China of meddling in this months’s mid-term elections.
Following Friday’s talks, Mr Pompeo said: “We have continued concerns about China’s activities and militarization in the South China Sea.
“We pressed China to live up to its past commitments in this area.”
A planned trip to Beijing by Mr Mattis last month was halted as military tensions between the US and China escalated.
Friday’s Washington talks saw the Chinese and US parties locked in discussions over trade and China’s clampdown on its Muslim minority, as well as security concerns.
Mr Trump has imposed £192 billion (US$250 billion) worth of tariffs on Chinese goods as part of his America First trade policy.
Three round of tariffs have been imposed on Chinese products, with the first two waves slapping 25 percent tariffs on £38.7 billion ($50 billion) of Chinese imports.
A third volley of tariffs unleashed by Mr Trump in September targeted a further £154 billion ($200 billion) of Chinese goods.
The taxes of 10 per cent will rise to 25 percent from the start of next year unless the counties agree a deal.
Mr Trump has vowed to inflict more tariffs that would hit almost all Beijing’s US exports if China retaliates further.
White House adviser Peter Navarro slammed efforts by Wall Street executives urging the US and China to end their trade dispute.
He branded the critics “unregistered foreign agents” who wanted to pressure Mr Trump into a deal.
Mr Navarro said: “ If there is a deal, if and when there is a deal, it will be on President Donald J. Trump’s terms, not Wall Street terms.”