Paulson said during a period of trade tension between the two nations, the talks have "helped us manage difficult trade and investment issues" by avoiding harmful and counterproductive market-closing initiatives."
He said this week's meeting will seek to reach substantive short- to long-term agreements in electricity generation, transportation, clean water, clean air, and protecting wetlands and other natural areas.
"The most pressing issue we have to deal with is coping with global financial turmoil," Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan said.
Xinhua reported Wang said it is imperative the two countries work together to implement the consensus reached at the G20 summit, referring to a financial meeting of leaders from the 20 richest countries and emerging economic markets in Washington last month.
The Treasury Department said in a news release that engagement with China "has helped both countries manage and address consumer and product-safety issues." China has been hit with several product safety scandals in recent years, the latest being the scandal relating to melamine-tainted milk products, which sickened tense of thousands of Chinese children.
U.S.-China relations also are burdened by China's burgeoning trade surplus and U.S. efforts to convince China to further revalue its currency to bring down the trade imbalance.