US Defence Secretary Robert Gates expressed disappointment today at China's decision to call off his planned visit and said the Chinese military appeared reluctant to engage in a dialogue with the United States.
Gates told reporters before landing in Singapore for a security conference that it was his "opinion that the PLA (People's Liberation Army) is significantly less interested in developing this relationship than the political leadership of the country".
China has denounced US arms sales to Taiwan announced in January and the move by Beijing appeared to fit a familiar pattern of postponing some scheduled high-level exchanges with the American military as a gesture of displeasure.
Gates defended the arms sales, saying it was nothing new and had not affected political or economic ties with Beijing.
"The reality is these arms sales go back to the beginning of the relationship," he said, referring to the normalisation of US-China ties in the 1970s.
Gates had planned to visit Beijing as part of an Asian tour this week, which includes an annual security conference in Singapore attended by senior military officials including from China.