Two of the most senior figures in the American government, Hillary Clinton and Timothy Geithner, have begun talks in Beijing on key economic and foreign policy issues.
However, the run-up to the summit has been overshadowed by the case of the dissident, Chen Guangcheng, who had sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing.
Mrs Clinton said it was important for the two nations to co-operate to solve problems.
Chinese president Hu Jintao says the two countries should respect each other, even when they disagreed.
The dissident at the centre of a diplomatic stand-off between China and the United States, says he fears for his safety and wants to leave China.
Chen Guangchen escaped from house arrest and took refuge in the US embassy in Beijing, only to walk out and into the arms of Chinese officials.