(CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates accused the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) of being behind recent cooling of relations between China and American military leaders.
"I'm disappointed that the PLA leadership has not seen the same potential benefits from this kind of a military-to-military relationship as their own leadership," Gates told reporters during a visit to Singapore Thursday.
Gates had wanted to stop in China during this recent trip, but Beijing cancelled the visit. Gates said he doesn't think it the civilian leaders in China who put the brakes on the stopover.
"Nearly all of the aspects of the relationship between the United States and China are moving forward in a positive direction, with the sole exception of the military-to-military relationship. And whether this is the result of pushback by the PLA or there is some other factor, it's very difficult for us to tell," Gates said.
Gates wants China's help in reducing tension on the Korean peninsula, but so far, Beijing hasn't engaged.
"I think having a conversation with the Chinese about North Korea would be helpful. I think it's one of the aspects of this broader strategic relationship that would be beneficial. But we're not interested if they're not interested."
The defense secretary was dismissive of Chinese protests regarding sales of U.S. weapons to Taiwan, a reason cited by the Chinese military in the past for tension between the two countries.
"This is not new news to the Chinese and the sales under the Bush Administration and under the Obama Administration in both cases were carefully calibrated to keep them on the defensive side," Gates said. "It depends on whether the Chinese want to make a big deal out of it or not. But the reality is these arms sales go back to the beginning of the relationship."