It looks like Chuck Hagel will be missing out on the NCAA men's basketball championship game Monday night. Hagel, the U.S. defense secretary, will be making a trip out of the country on Monday.
Hagel will be heading to China to start off his work week and while there it is expected he will visit China's sole aircraft carrier.
Washington's request to visit the aircraft carrier while Hagel is in the country for three days was quietly approved by Beijing. According to an anonymous U.S. official, the aircraft carrier visit had not been previously disclosed. The official added that Hagel will head to China from a trip to Japan, first landing in the port city of Qingdao. Hagel will then head to a Chinese naval base where he will visit the Liaoning.
In 1998 the Liaoning, a Soviet-era ship, was bought from the Ukraine. Since then the ship has been re-fitted in a Chinese shipyard. The Liaoning has been seen as "a sign of Beijing's ambition for greater global influence and a reminder of its growing military might."
According to the official they believe not only will this trip be a first for a U.S. defense secretary, but also a first for an official visitor from outside China to be on board the vessel.
Chuck Hagel to be first foreigner to visit Chinese aircraft carrier
— '#Sєяgî๏MîgυєℓFєℓîz™ (@SergiioBailarin) April 7, 2014
The announcement of Hagel's visit to the Liaoning came just a day after he announced he would be visiting China. At the time Hagel said he would tell Beijing to respect their neighbors and use their "great power" wisely. At a news conference at Japan's defense ministry on Sunday Hagel said, "Coercion, intimidation is a very deadly thing that leads only to conflict, All nations, all people deserve respect."
Image via YouTube.