U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates reviews Chinese military troops at an arrival ceremony at Bayi Building in Beijing on Monday. ((Larry Downing/Reuters) )

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates is meeting with his Chinese counterpart at the start of a long-awaited visit to Beijing that formally reopens military exchanges.

Gates met with Liang Guanglie at the Chinese Defence Ministry on Monday morning and will remain in Beijing for three days. He is also meeting with other top Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao, who is scheduled to travel to the U.S. next week for a state visit.

Gates is the first American defence secretary to visit Beijing since 2000. His trip marks the official restoration of contacts with the Chinese military that were suspended by Beijing last year after the U.S. announced a $6.4 billion arms package for Taiwan.