2014-04-07T043427Z_2_CBREA351SDP00_RTROPTP_2_JAPAN-USA-HAGEL

U.S. defense chief, in first, to visit China's aircraft carrier

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel walks off an aircraft upon his arrival at Yokota Air Force Base in FussaBy Phil Stewart TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will visit China’s sole aircraft carrier when he arrives in the country on Monday, a U.S. official said, in an unprecedented opening by Beijing to a potent symbol of its military buildup. The official believed Hagel would be the first official visitor from outside China to be allowed on board the Liaoning, although that could not be immediately confirmed. China’s Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment although Chinese state television noted Hagel would visit the ship. Chinese security experts said Beijing could be trying to quell U.S. criticism that it was not transparent about its military modernization.

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