Japanese Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita began his first official visit to China Thursday and expressed hope it would mark a "new starting point" after several years of acrimony between East Asia's two major powers.

Takeshita arrived at mid-afternoon from Tokyo for a trip seen as the climax of efforts to put Japan's potential for aid and China's modernization drive ahead of political and economic squabbles that have marred their relations.The Japanese leader plans to announce a major new package of economic development loans estimated at $6 billion. Officials will also sign a long-delayed treaty during the visit aimed at quickening Japanese investment in China.