The U.S. Army's top officer pledged more dialogue on "common objectives" as he met Chinese generals in Beijing.
Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno was greeted Friday with full military honors at China's Defense Ministry.
His visit comes amid U.S. criticism of China's policies toward its neighbors over territorial claims in the East and South China Seas.
However, before holding closed-door meetings, Odierno said he would focus on concerns that both sides share.
"We have many common objectives about our countries so I think it's important to have this kind of dialogue. We both have incredibly professional armies so I look forward to the substantive discussions that we will have on both regional and international issues," said Odierno.
Chinese Lieutenant General Wang Ning also said military-to-military dialogue is an important part of the U.S.-China relationship.
"We look forward to a continuous development of the new type of relationship between the militaries of China and the U.S. In the meantime, we also look forward to a continuous development of the exchanges and cooperation between the armies of our two nations," said Wang.
Though both sides have stressed cooperation in public bilateral meetings, tensions and mistrust appear to be increasing.
A top U.S. diplomat earlier this month called on Beijing to "clarify or amend" its vast claims to the South China Sea, where many of China's neighbors accuse Beijing of acting aggressively.
The U.S. hsa refused to acknowledge China's recently declared Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea, which overlaps with areas also claimed by Japan.
The U.S. military, along with its allies Japan and South Korea, has continued to fly planes through the region, ignoring China's call to first file flight plans with the Defense Ministry.
One senior U.S. Navy official last week said Beijing was preparing for a "short, sharp war" with Japan during which it would seize disputed islands. Pentagon officials on Thursday distanced themselves from the comments, saying Captain James Fanell was expressing his personal views.
Many in China, meanwhile, view the White House's military and economic focus on Asia as an attempt to contain its rise and regional influence - a charge U.S. officials deny.