BEIJING, May 3 (ChinaMil) --According to foreign media reports, the United States Department of Defense (DOD) issued a statement on April 29 saying that the U.S. aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis battle group was refused permission for a port stop in Hong Kong by the Chinese government. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department also confirmed the news.
The spokesperson of the U.S. State Department also said that the USS Blue Ridge, the command ship of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, is paying a visit to Hong Kong and the U.S. side hoped that the carrier's port call denial would not affect the normal visit of the Blue Ridge. According to reports, the USS Blue Ridge arrived in Hong Kong on the morning of April 29.
The USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) is the seventh ship of the Nimitz-class super aircraft carrier. Recently, the U. S., as a country outside the region, has become "extremely enthusiastic" over South China Seas issues.
The Stennis is the vanguard of the U.S. show of presence in the South China Sea. For instance, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and the Philippine Defense Secretary Gazmin boarded together the Stennis on April 15.
The spokesperson of the U.S. Department of Defense said that the USS Stennis and its accompanying warships had paid successful visits to Hong Kong for times in the past, but a recent visit request was rejected. Analysts said that this is China’s response to last-minute cancellation of Carter’s visit to China as well as a series of provocations by the U.S. in the South China Sea.
Since the British occupation period, Hong Kong had been an important supply port in East Asia for Western warships and the U.S. warships also often stopped in Hong Kong. In 1997 China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, "The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China" regulates that access of foreign warships to ports of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region requires the special permission of the Central People's Government of China.
In early 1997, China and the U.S. reached an additional agreement which allows U.S. warships to continue making replenishment stops in Hong Kong. Since then, the visit of U.S. military ships to Hong Kong has become a barometer of bilateral relations.
After the China-U.S. military aircraft collision incident in 2001, U.S. warships were refused for a time to dock in Hong Kong. The U.S. destroyer Halsey was also rejected permission to visit Hong Kong in 2014.
Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson of China's Ministry of National Defense, said on April 28 that the so-called “freedom of navigation” operations of the U.S. in the South China Sea pose political and military provocations towards China and those operations, which will easily lead to unexpected incidents both in the air and at sea, are very dangerous. Therefore, China will continue to follow closely the situations in the air and at sea, and take all necessary measures accordingly, Wu said.