- In Latest US-China Escalation, Beijing Denies US Aircraft Carrier Access To Hong Kong Port
by Tyler Durden, www.zerohedge.com
What until now was mostly effete jawboning over US complaints surrounding China’s territorial expansion ambitions in the South China Sea, including the occasional sailing of a US ship deep inside the disputed territorial waters (with zero impact especially now that China may soon start building maritime nuclear power plants in the area), changed dramatically earlier today when China officially denied a U.S. carrier strike group’s request for a port visit to Hong Kong next week.
As Stripes writes, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs notified the United States Thursday of its decision to deny the USS John C. Stennis and its escort ships access to the former British colony, Darragh Paradiso, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, said by phone. The ministry provided no explanation for the move.
While U.S. warships frequently visit Hong Kong, port calls have been canceled at times of diplomatic strain between the two Asia-Pacific powers. In 2007, China denied access to the city’s port by the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk.
The decision follows weeks of increasing diplomatic sparring between China and the U.S. over Beijing’s claims to more than 80 percent of the South China Sea. The nuclear-powered Stennis has played a central role in U.S. efforts to demonstrate its continued security presence in the disputed waters, with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter visiting the warship on patrol there in April.