London: Prince William will visit Japan and China early next year to promote British interests and his personal efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade, his office announced on Thursday.
The second in line to the throne, formally known as the Duke of Cambridge, will not be accompanied by his wife Kate, who is due to give birth to their second child in April.
"The Duke will spend approximately three days in each country, departing in late February and returning to the United Kingdom in early March," said a spokesman for the prince`s office and residence, Clarence House.
The 32-year-old`s trip will start in Japan with diplomatic, commercial and cultural engagements in Tokyo and other places, representing the British government.
In China, William will officially open a "Festival of Creativity" on March 2 in Shanghai, held as part of Britain`s "GREAT" campaign to boost British business.
In both countries, William will also attend engagements "in support of his work to combat the illegal wildlife trade and support wildlife conservation", Clarence House said.
The prince has a keen personal interest in the subject and since 2005 has been a patron of the Tusk Trust, an organisation involved in conservation and environmental projects across Africa.
China is among more than a dozen countries identified by CITES, the international regulatory body for trade in wildlife, as not doing enough to curb trafficking.
William`s father Prince Charles also accused China at a wildlife conference in London in February of fuelling the trade for rare creatures which are used to produce traditional medicines and other products.
Charles has never visited mainland China, although he attended the handover of Hong Kong in 1997. He is friendly with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader branded a terrorist by Beijing.
The tour by William will be viewed in Britain as an attempt to improve top-level diplomatic relations with Beijing.
Queen Elizabeth II received Chinese premier Li Keqiang at Windsor Castle in June, although she has not visited since a trip with her husband in 1986.
Prince Charles visited Japan with his wife in 2008, three decades after the queen paid a visit in 1975.