( May 23, 2014, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) Yesterday ( May 21), at the Council on Foreign Relations, former defense secretary Robert M. Gates discussed his career in U.S. government and assessed China's "aggressive approach" to foreign policy under President Xi Jinping, in comparison to his predecessor, Hu Jintao.

The event was part of CFR's HBO History Makers series, which focuses on the contributions made by prominent individuals at critical junctures in international relations.

Reflecting on his experience as defense secretary from 2006 to 2011, Gates said, "There's one thing that's changed under President Xi from President Hu. Under President Hu, when Chinese ships harassed the U.S. Navy ship Impeccable, when they launched an ASAT [anti-satellite] test, when they rolled out the J-20 stealth fighter three hours before I met [in 2011] with President Hu, we had good reason to believe that in all three of these cases the civilian leadership in China did not know that those things were going to happen, that this was the PLA [People's Liberation Army] acting independently. That is not the case now. President Xi is clearly in charge and these things are clearly being done with his approval."

Gates also talked about the Russia-Ukraine crisis, lessons learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more. Watch the full video. Read the transcript.