China rejects US Navy request for Hong Kong port visits amid protests

US Navy warship challenges Chinese claims in South China Sea
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US Navy ships patrol in the South China Sea.

Amid ongoing unrest in Hong Kong, Chinese officials have rejected a US request to have two US Navy ships make port visits there in the coming 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,” Cmdr. Nate Christensen, the deputy spokesman for the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet, told CNN in a statement on Tuesday.

The amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay was scheduled to visit Hong Kong on August 17 and the guided missile-cruiser USS Lake Erie was scheduled to visit next month.

Not the first time

“The US 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 said.

This is not the first time Chinese officials have turned down a US request to have a ship visit Hong Kong.

China similarly canceled a US port visit in 2018 after the US booted China from a major military exercise in retaliation for Beijing’s deployment of military hardware to contested man-made islands in the South China Sea.

Chinese officials have accused the US and other foreign governments of having a role in backing the pro-democracy protests that have roiled Hong Kong in recent weeks, protests that were launched in response to a bill that would have allowed Hong Kong to extradite individuals to mainland China.

The US has denied having any role.

President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that “our intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe.”