U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Washington was not trying to contain China, but rather to persuade Beijing to adjust its approach in matters related to military expansion and respect for human rights.
Meeting US national security adviser John Bolton in Washington ahead of those talks, Yang said on Wednesday that the two sides should "properly manage differences and carefully prepare to ensure positive results in the Argentina meeting", China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Despite the officials' frank airing of their differences, both sides are stressing the need to lower tensions that have flared amid a trade dispute between the world's two largest economies.
China and the United States have put tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods and U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to set tariffs on the remainder of China's US$500 billion-plus exports to the United States if the trade dispute can not be resolved.
"We made clear that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows", Mattis said.
The meeting paired Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis with Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe.
The talks were due to be held in Beijing last month but were postponed after Washington announced new arms sales to Taiwan, and after a Chinese destroyer came close to the USS Decatur in late September in what the U.S. Navy called an "unsafe and unprofessional maneuver".
The Trump administration has criticized China's militarization of the South China Sea, which is a vital waterway for world trade.
"We believe that meeting will help chart the course for China-US relations", he said, following talks with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
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Mattis made clear that this demand go unheeded by Washington, which insists it is acting under global law to preserve access for it and others to the South China Sea.
HANOI-Vietnam strongly protested China's launch of weather stations in the disputed Spratly group of islands, saying on Thursday they seriously violate Vietnam's sovereignty and complicate the situation in the South China Sea.
He noted that developing U.S. "Confrontation and conflict between the two militaries will spell disaster for us all".
China and the USA are now locked in an ongoing trade war as each country has introduced tariffs on goods traded between each other.
Yang said that China, North Korea's main lifeline, would enforce United Nations sanctions but voiced hope that Washington and Pyongyang "will meet each other halfway" and "accommodate each other's legitimate concerns".
China and the United States have slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods, jolting global financial markets, and Trump has threatened to set tariffs on the remainder of China's $500 billion-plus exports to the United States if the trade dispute can not be resolved.
A resumption of high-level dialogue, marked by a phone call last week between the presidents, has raised some hopes, but the Trump administration has also accused China of interfering in United States politics, charges China strongly denies.
Reflecting growing USA concerns about the Chinese cyber threat, a senior US intelligence official on Thursday accused China of violating a 2015 agreement aimed at stopping cyber espionage through the hacking of government and corporate data.
"I reiterated the USA policy has not changed, and that we are concerned about China's increasing efforts to coerce others constraining Taiwan's global space", Pompeo said.