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Aboard the Chief of Staff's aircraft en route to Japan from Hawaii—Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh will become the first Air Force Chief of Staff in 15 years to visit China when he sets foot on the Chinese mainland in September on official business. Welsh, who is currently in the midst of his first tour of the Asia-Pacific region as Chief of Staff, on Tuesday confirmed to the Daily Report that the China trip would take place. His current Asia-Pacific tour runs through the end of August. Welsh and his delegation will meet with his Chinese counterpart Gen. Ma Xiaotian and other senior Chinese military officials while in China, said Welsh's spokeswoman Maj. Megan Schafer. Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Hawk Carlisle will accompany Welsh. The Air Force and Office of the Secretary of Defense are still finalizing the trip details and itinerary. Gen. Michael Ryan was the last Air Force Chief of Staff to visit China, a trip he made in May 1998, service spokeswoman Maj. Cristin Marposon told the Daily Report on Aug. 20. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday announced Welsh's trip as one of several visits by US senior military leadership to China and reciprocal Chinese military leadership visits to the United States during the remainder of this year and in 2014 (see below).