Beijing nixes US Navy’s planned port visits to Hong Kong amid accusations of meddling

The USS Green Bay participates in exercises off the coast of Australia in 2017. Photo via US Navy.
The USS Green Bay participates in exercises off the coast of Australia in 2017. Photo via US Navy.

China has denied requests for two US Navy ships to visit Hong Kong, the Pacific Fleet said on Tuesday, after the two countries engaged in a war of words over the city’s pro-democracy protests.

The USS Green Bay, an amphibious dock landing ship, was to stop in Hong Kong on Saturday, while the guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie planned a port call there next month, Commander Nate Christensen, deputy spokesman for the United States Pacific Fleet, said in a statement.

“The Chinese government denied requests for port visits to Hong Kong” by the two vessels, Christensen said.

He deferred the question of why the request was denied to China.

Weeks of protests in the semi-autonomous former British colony of Hong Kong have escalated, with protesters blocking and paralyzing the city’s airport for a second day on Tuesday.

Beijing has increasingly pitched the anti-government protests as funded by the West, but has provided no credible evidence.

Early this month, Beijing demanded that US diplomats based in Hong Kong “stop interfering” in the city’s affairs, after reports that they met with pro-democracy activists.

US President Donald Trump, however, faced criticism at home on Tuesday for avoiding harsh words over Beijing’s response to the protesters, who object to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous global financial center.

In a story today, the state-run Global Times stopped short of offering an official response for the denial, but quoted academic and former foreign affairs spokesman Yang Yujun as saying the move was directly related to the alleged meddling.

“We can clearly see the role the US has been playing in the turmoil in Hong Kong. We are highly suspicious of US motives, now that it still expects to have warships visit Hong Kong,” Yang noted.

In the same story, another academic at a university for diplomats run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the US of trying to “send warships to Hong Kong to back up the creators of chaos.”

A US Navy ship last visited Hong Kong in April. Last September, with US-China trade tensions soaring, Beijing did not approve a request for the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship, to visit.

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