Top US officials on Tuesday underscored the need to cooperate with China on a host of issues from trade to climate change despite a massive hacking of US government personnel records that has been attributed to China and has overshadowed the three days of talks in Washington.
"We do not fear China's rise," Vice President Joe Biden told US and Chinese officials gathered for the US-Chinese Strategic and Economic Dialogue. "A rising China can be a significant asset for the region and the world, and selfishly, for the United States."
Chinese officials acknowledged Washington and Beijing did not always see eye to eye, but were committed to cooperation and non-confrontation with the United States.
"Facing a complicated and volatile international situation, China and the United States should work together," Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong said.
But Biden, along with Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Secretary of State John Kerry, pressured China to abide by international norms, protect intellectual property and refrain from cyber-espionage.
"Nations that use cyber technology as an economic weapon or profits from the theft of intellectual property are sacrificing tomorrow's gains for short-term gains today," Biden said at the start of the talks.
Kerry said the sides would have "a very frank discussion of cyber security and other ongoing concerns, such as internet freedom, human rights and religious liberty."
A US official said Monday that the hacking of millions of US government personnel records would be raised with Chinese officials at talks in Washington this week, but State Department spokesman John Kirby would not say Tuesday whether the matter had been discussed.
The US government has not publicly blamed China for the attack, but officials behind the scenes have been quick to point the finger.
Chinese officials will meet with President Barack Obama on Wednesday.
The talks are focussed on improving cooperation on issues such as climate change, development, humanitarian aid, pandemic response and ocean conservation, the State Department said. Officials will also discuss global issues such as Iran, Islamic State, North Korea and Afghanistan.
The talks will lay the ground work for a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the White House in September.