US: China rejects Hong Kong port call by US aircraft carrier

WASHINGTON — China recently denied a request from a U.S. aircraft carrier for a port visit in Hong Kong, the State Department said Friday, in an apparent sign of mounting tension in the disputed South China Sea.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin visited the carrier, USS John C. Stennis, in those waters two weeks ago, a move that irked Beijing.

Gabrielle Price, spokeswoman for East Asia, said the department was recently informed that a request for a visit by the Stennis and accompanying vessels was denied. She said the U.S. has a long record of successful port visits to Hong Kong, including a current visit by the USS Blue Ridge, and it expects that will continue.

She referred further inquiries to the Chinese government.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted China's Foreign Ministry as saying that port calls by U.S. warships were examined on a "case by case basis." (AP)
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