Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang held talks with the US ambassador on Monday, Beijing said, during which he said the "top priority" was to stabilise relations between the rival powers.
Qin's discussions with Nicholas Burns in Beijing are one of the highest level meetings between the two countries since Washington shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon over the United States in early February.
The incident led US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to abruptly call off a rare trip to China.
According to Chinese state media, Qin told Burns: "The top priority is to stabilise China-US relations, avoid a downward spiral and prevent accidents from occurring between China and the United States."
"This should be the basic consensus between the two countries and is also the bottom line that must be upheld when dealing with state-to-state relations, especially ties between two major countries."
Qin told Burns that relations between the two countries were of "great significance", but that "a series of erroneous words and deeds by the US side" has undermined their progress since Chinese President Xi Jinping met US counterpart Joe Biden in Bali last November.