While a warm breeze appears to be wafting through Sino-US military relations, analysts say it will take a long time to thaw the existing deep freeze. Last Wednesday, US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld sent his Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security, Peter Rodman, to Beijing to discuss the possible resumption of the Defence Consultative Talks - high-level meetings between the two militaries, which Mr Rumsfeld cut off after the Hainan spy plane incident in April last year. During his three-day Beijing visit, Mr Rodman and his delegation met senior officials, including Vice-Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Defence Minister Chi Haotian. 'In a candid and constructive atmosphere, both sides discussed the development of bilateral and military relations, especially restoring and developing military exchanges,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said after Mr Rodman's meeting. The visit came almost two months after Vice-President Hu Jintao's meeting with Mr Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. At that meeting, Mr Rumsfeld expressed to Mr Hu a willingness to resume military exchanges with Beijing. Despite the positive signals, analysts believe substantial military contact between Beijing and Washington is still a long way off. 'It's good they are meeting but I don't see it as a breakthrough,' said Eugene Martin, a private China consultant and, until last year, the US deputy chief of mission in Beijing. The main reason for this continued deadlock is mistrust, with US analysts saying there continues to be a strong belief in the Pentagon, particularly among civilian strategists, that Beijing uses the exchanges for spying. The critics complained that in past exchanges Beijing had gathered valuable intelligence on US force capabilities and planning while the Pentagon got nothing in return. Analysts also say Pentagon officials are still angry over the spy plane incident, in which Beijing forced the aircraft to be taken apart and shipped in crates to the US. Mainland analysts suspect the Pentagon's recent overtures are an attempt to gain insight into Beijing's military policy, particular its stance on Taiwan as Washington is continuing its policy of developing closer relations with Taipei. Professor Wang Yong, a US specialist at Peking University's School of International Studies, said: 'I think the Pentagon wants to use the military engagement to understand what the Chinese policy over Taiwan is and exert pressure on China on the Taiwan issue.' For now, it appears Beijing's suspicions may be justified. Just before Mr Rodman's visit to Beijing, Insight Magazine , a publication of the conservative Washington Times , published an article quoting senior Pentagon officials and analysts as suggesting Mr Rodman's visit was a move by the Pentagon to placate Beijing's anxieties as Washington plots an attack on Iraq. It said the visit also was aimed at easing Beijing's concerns over closer relations between Moscow and Washington and warning Beijing against any moves that threaten US interests. The article said: 'If the Bush administration wants to put a cap on [China's] aggressive ambitions, a hard-nosed dialogue with the Chinese military might be one way to start.' Mr Rodman is the Pentagon's point man in Washington's war against terrorism. Accompanying him to Beijing was Michael Pillsbury, a Pentagon China analyst and leader of the Pentagon's anti-Beijing group. Some Pentagon insiders say that Mr Rumsfeld wants a resumption of military exchanges to be conditional on 'transparency, consistency and reciprocity' from Beijing, meaning equal access to the mainland's military. Beijing has rejected the idea by arguing it does not want its military strength known to Washington. 'This is a win-win for the Pentagon,' a Washington-based analyst said. 'If the Chinese give the Pentagon what they want, this will be a real breakthrough. If they don't, then they can blame the Chinese for the failure in establishing the relations.' Sources said Beijing presented a plan for 'transparency, consistency and reciprocity' during Mr Rodman's visit. However, Beijing's proposal is far from the Pentagon demands. Analysts believe it is highly unlikely Beijing will accept the Pentagon's terms. 'With the closer US-Taiwan relationship, the Chinese side is becoming more reluctant to be transparent,' said Professor Shen Dingli, deputy director of Fudan University's Centre for American Studies. Regardless of political motivation, analysts from both sides still view last week's meeting as an improvement. 'The reasons why they met do not matter. It is still a useful beginning for dialogue,' Mr Martin said.