China halts USN port call in Hong Kong

The USS Wasp Photo: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary L. Borden (RELEASED)/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

China has blocked a US warship from making a port call this month in Hong Kong in the midst of increasing tension between the two nations over trade and the US’ sanctioning of the Chinese military.

Reuters reported that according to diplomatic sources, the United States Navy’s (USN) USS Wasp (LHD-1) assault ship had been due to make the call, but a spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong & Macau said that China’s government turned down the request.

However, she added: “We have a long track record of successful port visits to Hong Kong, and we expect that to continue.”

The same day as the request was rejected, the US went ahead with approving $330m in arms sales to Taiwan.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China spokesman Geng Shuang said that for requests for US military vessels to call at Hong Kong, China has always undertaken approvals on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the principle of sovereignty and the detailed scenario.

According to American military newspaper Stars and Stripes, the USS Wasp arrived in Singapore a week after the request was turned down, on October 2.

The paper claimed that the rejection was a day after 10% tariffs on $200bn of annual Chinese imports were implemented.

It also said that the US had additionally issued sanctions on China recently after finding out it had purchased fighter jets from Russia and a surface-to-air missile system and, in May, uninvited China from taking part in its multinational Rim of the Pacific exercise.

Subsequent to the rejection of the Hong Kong request, CNN reported that the Sunday following the disproval, a Chinese destroyer had come within 45 yards of a USN ship while the latter was carrying out a freedom of navigation operation near the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

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