China denies request for Hong Kong visit by U.S. carrier group - Pentagon | Reuters

WASHINGTON/HONGKONG China has denied a request for a U.S. carrier strike group led by the USS John C

Reuters April 29, 2016 23:16:52 IST
China denies request for Hong Kong visit by U.S. carrier group - Pentagon
| Reuters

China denies request for Hong Kong visit by US carrier group  Pentagon
 Reuters

WASHINGTON/HONGKONG China has denied a request for a U.S. carrier strike group led by the USS John C. Stennis to visit to Hong Kong, the U.S. Defense Department said on Friday, amid heightened tensions over China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

A Pentagon spokesman, Commander Bill Urban, said a U.S. warship, the USS Blue Ridge, was currently in Hong Kong on a port visit and the United States expected that to continue.

The Chinese government and its embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Urban said the request for the Hong Kong visit by the carrier and its accompanying vessels, which have been patrolling the South China Sea, was recently denied, despite a "long track record of successful port visits to Hong Kong."

The Blue Ridge, the command ship of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, arrived in Hong Kong waters at 11:20 a.m. local time (0320 GMT) on Friday, according to the on-line log of the Hong Kong government's Marine Department.

The nuclear-powered Stennis has been conducting patrols in the South China Sea, which China claims most of and where Beijing has sparked U.S. and regional concerns by building artificial islands to bolster its claims.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited the Stennis while it transited the South China Sea on April 15 to underscore U.S. concerns about the need to maintain freedom of navigation in the South China Sea in the face of Chinese moves.

A wide range of U.S. military vessels and aircraft have long routinely stopped in Hong Kong, a reflection of the "one country, two systems" formula under which Britain handed the global financial hub back to China in 1997.

The visits occasionally have been suspended in periods of heightened tensions, such as after a mid-air collision between a U.S. EP-3 surveillance plane and a Chinese plane off China's Hainan island in 2001.

The USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier also was denied permission to enter Hong Kong over Thanksgiving in 2007 but was cleared to visit five months later.

The United States has stressed the importance of good relations with China's military to avoid misunderstandings and Chinese military officers are invited routinely aboard U.S. ships during port visits, and are sometimes flown out to land on U.S. carriers at sea.

While there, he dismissed China's characterization of a more robust U.S. military presence in the region as being the cause of heightened tensions. The United States has in turn accused China of militarizing its outposts in the South China Sea by building airstrips and other facilities.

Carter made a similar stop at the USS Theodore Roosevelt in November as it transited the South China Sea near Malaysia.

The Stennis has been on a routine deployment in the Western Pacific for more than three months, the carrier strike group's commander, Rear Admiral Ronald Boxall, said earlier this month.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Idrees Ali in Washington and Greg Torode in Hong Kong; Editing by Bill Trott)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

also read

Time to end caste system and fix Duryodhan’s thigh of Indian civilisation
India

Time to end caste system and fix Duryodhan’s thigh of Indian civilisation

Hindu social and spiritual leaders need to come together to convince people against the caste system

'Servers collapsed, machines not working': Glitches plague bitcoin rollout in El Salvador
World

'Servers collapsed, machines not working': Glitches plague bitcoin rollout in El Salvador

There has been skepticism about the government’s enthusiastic adoption of bitcoin since the government announced at a Bitcoin conference in Miami in June

Modi 2.0: From foreign policy highlights to women's empowerment, how PM created milestones
Politics

Modi 2.0: From foreign policy highlights to women's empowerment, how PM created milestones

On the socio-political front, the historic step of abrogating Article 370, which came into effect in 1950, and Article 35A, which came into effect in 1954, figures high on the list of achievements