Senior U.S. and Chinese diplomats had "in-depth" talks in Washington this week, covering issues such as North Korea, Myanmar and maritime security, the State Department said Thursday, as the two countries explore a possible summit between their presidents in November.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller revealed that Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong on Wednesday.
They held a "candid, in-depth and constructive consultation on regional issues as part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication," Miller said during a press briefing.
During the meeting, Kritenbrink underscored "the importance of a free and open, connected, prosperous, resilient, and secure Indo-Pacific region and upholding the rules-based international order," according to the department.
It said he also told Sun that maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is significant.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Friday that Sun and Kritenbrink had frank, deep and constructive exchanges of views over the China-U.S. relationship during the meeting.
Despite disputes over a number of issues, the United States and China holding such diplomatic talks suggests they are stepping up preparations for a one-on-one meeting between President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping in November, possibly on the sidelines of a multilateral meeting in San Francisco.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed with Chinese Vice President Han Zheng in New York to maintain open lines of communication and to hold "senior engagements in the coming weeks."
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that China's top diplomat Wang Yi is planning to visit Washington in October.
Citing people familiar with the situation, the paper also said the two countries are discussing a trip to the U.S. capital by Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, Xi's top economic adviser.
If the trip eventuates, he would be the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit the United States since Biden took office in 2021.
Biden, who will chair this year's leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in the major West Coast city, and Xi most recently held face-to-face talks in November last year in Indonesia ahead of a Group of 20 summit.
The United States and China have significant disagreements on nearly every issue, with Miller also confirming Thursday that a Chinese hacking group is believed to have stolen about 60,000 emails from State Department officials earlier this year.
The spokesman said the emails were unclassified and confirmed classified systems were not hacked, referring to the theft of U.S. government emails disclosed in July by Microsoft, which blamed Chinese hackers.
He said the State Department has not verified who was behind the hack but there is "no reason to doubt" Microsoft's findings.
On Thursday, the department also released a special report on China's "information manipulation," saying the country uses a range of "deceptive and coercive methods" and spends billions of dollars each year on propaganda, censorship and disinformation to that end.
The report, which the department says is the first of its kind, details how the Chinese government and the Communist Party seek to reshape the global information environment to their advantage.