BEIJING: China's top economic official Liu He spoke by phone with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday and "agreed to continue to communicate" on trade issues, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The call came at a time of heightened tensions after US President Donald Trump on Thursday authorised tariffs on as much as $60 billion of Chinese imports, targeting sectors in which Washington says Beijing has stolen American technology.
Liu He, a Harvard-educated Communist Party official who was elevated on Monday to the key role of vice premier, is expected to oversee China's financial and economic sectors.
On the phone, he accused a US investigation of violating international trade rules and told Mnuchin that Beijing was ready to defend its interests, Xinhua said.
"China is ready to defend its national interests and hopes that both sides will remain rational and work together to safeguard the overall stability of China-US economic and trade relations," Xinhua cited Liu as saying.
China warned the US on Friday that it was "not afraid of a trade war" as it threatened tariffs on $3 billion worth of US goods in retaliation to Trump's new measures.
It unveiled a hit list of products from fresh fruit to pork that could face duties of up to 25 percent, though it stopped short of pulling the trigger as it indicated its readiness to negotiate an agreement.
In August, the US formally launched a trade investigation into China's intellectual property practices and the forced transfer of US technology under Section 301 of US trade law, which addresses intellectual property.