Chuck Hagel, the head of the U.S. Defense Department, has arrived in the Chinese port city of Qingdao to tour the nation's only aircraft carrier, a sign of China's growing military power.
A U.S. official said Monday that Hagel requested the visit to the carrier Liaoning, which comes a day after he called on Beijing to use its power responsibly in regional relations and territorial disputes.
Hagel made the comment Sunday in Tokyo where he said said Washington plans to send two more missile defense warships to Japan by 2017 to counter the threat posed by North Korea's actions.
The defense secretary will spend three days in China, part of a 10-day tour across the Asia-Pacific to reassure allies that the United States is committed to its mutual defense treaties in the region.
Hagel arrived in China from Japan and is scheduled to meet senior Chinese officials before travelling to Mongolia, then returning home.
He said Saturday that Russia's annexation of Crimea and troop movements along the border with Ukraine have sparked worries among allies in the Pacific region and elsewhere.