Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu stated on Sunday that his country prefers dialogue over confrontation and that a conflict with the United States would be an "unbearable disaster."
Li said the world was big enough for China and the US to grow together when he spoke at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's highest security summit.
Li was wearing a general's uniform in the People's Liberation Army.
He said in a speech that marked his first significant international address since being appointed China's Minister of National Defense in March, "China and the US have different systems and are different in many other ways."
"However, this should not keep the two sides from seeking common ground and common interests to grow bilateral ties and deepen cooperation," he said. "It is undeniable that a severe conflict or confrontation between China and the US will be an unbearable disaster for the world."
The democratically governed island of Taiwan, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and President Joe Biden's restrictions on the export of semiconductor chips are just a few of the many issues that have strained relations between Washington and Beijing.
In their most recent column, China's military scrutinized the US and Canada for "deliberately provoking risk" after the nations' naval forces organised an uncommon joint cruise through the delicate Taiwan Waterway on Saturday.
At the security meeting in Singapore on Saturday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin criticised China for refusing to hold military talks, which left the two superpowers at odds.
Although he made thinly veiled digs at the United States in his speech, Li was more reserved and accused "some countries" of deliberately interfering in the affairs of others and intensifying an arms race.
"A Cold War mentality is now resurgent, greatly increasing security risks," he said. "Mutual respect should prevail over bullying and hegemony."
Li, sanctioned by the US in 2018 over weapons buys from Russia, warmly greeted Austin at a dinner on Friday; however, the two have not had a more profound conversation, regardless of repeated US requests for additional military exchanges.
Two Chinese military officers said privately on the sidelines of the conference that before military-to-military talks could resume, Beijing wanted Washington to show a less confrontational approach in Asia, including lifting sanctions against Li.