BEIJING – Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his Chinese counterpart said stronger military ties were needed to avoid missteps between the two global giants.

U.S. and Chinese military ties were curtailed for much of last year after Beijing protested against Obama’s proposed sale of $6.4 billion in weapons to Taiwan.

Gates said a lack of ties between the two militaries could magnify risks. U.S. and Chinese defense-related ships have jostled in seas near China in past years, and in 2001 a mid-air collision between a U.S. surveillance plane and a Chinese air force fighter erupted into a diplomatic standoff.