Two U.S. Navy warships were denied port visits to Hong Kong by the Chinese government amid a deepening political crisis as a result of anti-extradition bill protests that have swept the former British colony over the past 10 weeks.
“The Chinese Government denied requests for port visits to Hong Kong by the USS Green Bay and USS Lake Erie, which were scheduled to arrive in the next few weeks,” Commander Nate Christensen, the deputy spokesman for the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet, told CNN on August 14.
The USS Green Bay, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, was scheduled to visit Hong Kong this Saturday. The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie was slated to make a port call in the city in September.
The USS Green Bay recently participated in this year’s United States-Australia Talisman Sabre military exercises off the Australian coast.
“The U.S. Navy has a long track record of successful port visits to Hong Kong and we expect them to continue. We refer you to the Chinese Government for further information about why they denied the request,” Christensen added.
China has repeatedly warned the U.S. to stop interfering in Hong Kong. Yesterday, U.S. President Donald Trump denied any U.S. involvement in the protests against China’s growing influence in city.
“Many are blaming me, and the United States, for the problems going on in Hong Kong. I can’t imagine why?” Trump tweeted on August 13. “Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!” he tweeted later on the same day.
This is not the first time China has turned down a U.S. request to have ships visit Hong Kong.
In September 2018, Chinese officials denied a request by the United States for the first-of-class amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) to visit Hong Kong for a port call.The rejection of the request followed the Trump administration’s decision to move ahead with a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods.
In 2016, Beijing denied a port call request by the U.S. Nimitz-class supercarrier USS John C. Stennis. Four accompanying U.S. Navy ships were also denied access. This coincided with growing tensions over Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea.
“In 2007, the Oliver Hazard-Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Reuben James — sunk off Hawaii in January 2016 — was refused entry,” I wrote in 2016. “Also in 2007, the USS Kitty Hawk carrier strike group (CSG) was denied access.”
The USS Reuben James and USS Kitty Hawk were denied port visits just around the time when then U.S. President George W. Bush met the Dalai Lama and concluded a major arms sale with Taiwan.