China has accused the US of oppressing Beijing and urged Washington to remove sanctions and tariffs in high-level talks in the north-eastern port city of Tianjin.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said it was up to the US to “make the right choice”.
He made the comments during talks with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who said Washington was not seeking conflict with China.
Ms Sherman is the most senior US official to visit China in months.
The relationship between the two nations is crucial to both sides and the wider world. Beijing has repeatedly called on the new administration in Washington to improve relations that deteriorated under Donald Trump.
But President Joe Biden has continued to take a firm approach towards China, especially on issues like human rights and sanctions.
Earlier on Monday, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said the US was “demonising” his country because it was seen as an “imagined enemy”.
Mr Xie had previously said the US wanted to blame China for its own structural problems, according to a statement by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“It is as if when China’s development is contained… America would become great again.”
Following the talks on Monday, Ms Sherman said it was difficult to know if things would improve in the months ahead.
“There’s no way to know in the early stages of building this relationship whether we will get to all the places that we hoped for,” she told the Associated Press.
The US-China visit is widely being viewed as a preparatory step for an eventual meeting between Mr Biden and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping. But officials said this was not discussed during Monday’s talks, which lasted for about four hours.
Tensions between both countries have been high recently.
Last week, China imposed sanctions on several US individuals and organisations, including former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
They came after the Biden administration warned its business community against operating in Hong Kong.