However, it did not go so well.
In his opening statement at the Biden's administration's first face-to-face high-level talks with China, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the USA would discuss its "deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States, economic coercion of our allies", reports Reuters.
Blinken cited China's actions in those areas as threats to "the rules-based order that maintains global stability" at the top of Thursday's meeting, which included Yang, China's State Councilor Wang Yi and USA national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi replied by saying that Western nations don't represent global public opinion and called the U.S. the "champion" of cyber-attacks.
America's top diplomats met their Chinese counterparts in Alaska Thursday-and it was clear from the start that relations would remain frosty.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan confronting Chinese officials in Alaska.
The summit follows a protracted deterioration in relations between Beijing and Washington under former US President Donald Trump, including the imposition of trade sanctions, mutual visa restrictions and technology bans.
He added that there would be dialogue on "Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber attacks on the United States, economic coercion toward our allies". In response, China stepped up its rhetoric opposing USA interference in domestic affairs.
They were particularly angry that Washington had imposed sanctions on them the day before the talks, over a crackdown on pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong.
"We will push back if necessary when China uses coercion or aggression to get its way", Blinken said in Japan.
Afterwards, the U.S. accused China of "grandstanding" while Chinese state media blamed USA officials for speaking too long and being "inhospitable".
There may have been a certain amount of posturing involved, as a U.S. official said the private conversation that followed was substantive and serious.
"The Chinese delegation. seems to have arrived intent on grandstanding, focused on public theatrics and dramatics over substance", the official told reporters in Alaska.
Afterwards, the U.S. delegation accused China of violating the agreed protocol of two minutes of opening remarks by each side.
While much of Biden's China policy is still being formulated, including how to handle the tariffs on Chinese goods implemented under Trump, his administration has so far placed a stronger emphasis on democratic values and allegations of human rights abuses by China.
China is set to begin the trial of two Canadians, detained in 2018 on spying charges after Canadian police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of telecoms equipment company Huawei Technologies on a U.S. warrant. Yang then unloaded a list of Chinese complaints about the United States and accused Washington of hypocrisy for criticising Beijing on human rights and other issues.
Ms Meng awaits the outcome of a case that could see her extradited to the United States, but China's foreign ministry rejected assertions that the timing of the trials was linked to the Anchorage talks. Conflicts would extend to the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. The United States should handle its own affairs and China its own, he said.
Yang went on to say that "China is firmly opposed to United States interference in China's internal affairs" - Beijing's stock response to criticisms of its approach in Xinjiang, Hong Kong or vis-a-vis Taiwan. But recent developments were making the conversations tough.