By Sean Jackson
On August 13th two U.S. warships scheduled to make port in Hong Kong were denied by Chinese officials amid ongoing protests against the government in the province. U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesperson Commander Nate Christensen spoke with USNI News, stating that two ships – the USS Green Bay and the USS Lake Erie were both denied requests for making port in Hong Kong.
Christensen stated, “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.”
The denial of access to Hong Kong in part may have to do with the anti-government protests that have been ongoing since early June. The protests have escalated in the region, with protesters occupying Hong Kong’s airport, as well as tensions rising as Chinese military and special police amassing along the border of the semi-autonomous region in Shenzhen.
Recently the Chinese foreign ministry have accused the U.S. government, as well as the CIA as potential agitators in the region, encouraging the protests to escalate in Hong Kong.
Amid the claims, President Trump denied involvement, stating in a tweet, “Many are blaming me, and the United States, for the problems going on in Hong Kong. I can’t imagine why? Our intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!”
While the refusal for the U.S. Navy to port in Hong Kong may have to do with the current unrest, this is not the first time the Chinese government has denied entrance to port. In October 2018 Chinese officials denied the USS Wasp entrance amid ongoing tensions between Washington and Beijing with trade and arms deals in Russia.
Chinese officials stated afterwards, “The Chinese side reviews and approves such request in accordance with the principle of sovereignty and specific situation on a case-by-case basis.”
A similar statement was made after the Chinese refused a U.S. aircraft carrier, USS John C. Stennis, port in 2016 after the U.S. made a show of force in the South China Sea. Also in 2007 two U.S. destroyers were denied entry after then-President Bush presented the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama of Tibet.