U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates played down the possibility of a rift between China's civilian leadership and its military.

I don't think I talked about a rift as much as I did, Gates told reporters during a visit to China's Great Wall on Wednesday.

What came across to me is that both the civilian and the military leadership seem determined to carry this relationship further, and build upon it.

Speculation about a possible internal rift spread after a Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said China's President Hu Jintao and other civilian leaders at a Tuesday meeting with Gates did not appear aware that the J-20 test-flight had happened until after the U.S. side pressed them about it.

Gates is scheduled to visit China's Second Artillery Corps on Wednesday, the branch of the People's Liberation Army that handles China's nuclear arsenal, as he wraps up a visit to China aimed at defusing military tensions.