China's top diplomat had a brief meeting with President Donald Trump while at the White House for talks with the president's advisers.
State Councillor Yang Jiechi is the first senior Chinese official to meet Mr Trump since his inauguration.
Mr Yang also discussed security matters with the new US national security adviser, HR McMaster, and Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law.
If follows tensions over trade and security between the two countries.
On 9 February Mr Trump spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping by telephone.
In that call he agreed to honour the "One China" policy, backing away from previous threats to recognise the government of Taiwan, which China regards as a breakaway province.
In December Mr Trump, as president-elect, had spoken on the phone to the president of Taiwan - a break in protocol which angered Beijing.
Read more on this story:
In his visit on Monday, Mr Yang also met Vice-President Mike Pence and strategist Steve Bannon, Chinese state media reported.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that Mr Yang then "had an opportunity to say hi to the president".
The talks with the Chinese delegation covered "shared interests of national security", Mr Spicer said.
In January, China's foreign ministry warned Washington against challenging Beijing's sovereignty in parts of the South China Sea.
It came after Mr Spicer said the US would "make sure we protect our interests there".
Barack Obama's administration refused to take sides in the dispute.
Why is the South China Sea contentious?Image copyright AP Image caption Mr Trump and Mr Xi spoke on the phone earlier this month