US Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Beijing on Jan. 9, beginning his four-day visit to China with an aim of improving military ties between the countries after frictions last year.

During the visit, Gates is scheduled to have separate meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Vice President Xi Jinping, vice chairman of China 's Central Military Commission Xu Caihou and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, according to Xinhua news agency.

The US military top official held talks with his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie, agreeing to set up a working group to accelerate dialogues on strategic issues.

Gates also planned to visit the command of the Second Artillery Force of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).

This is Gates’ second visit to China since he took office in December 2006.

The visit is made several days ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit to Washington from Jan. 18 to 21./.