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China denies entry for US aircraft carrier into Hong Kong

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

Amid escalating tensions in the South China Sea, China today denied permission to a US aircraft carrier to make a port call in Hong Kong, a US consulate official said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry told the US last night the visit by the USS John C. Stennis would not be allowed, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) quoted the official as saying.

US defence chief Ash Carter has visited the Stennis earlier this month.

In a written reply to theSCMP's inquiry, the Chinese foreign ministry said today that port calls made by the US warships and military aircraft were examined on a "case by case basis in accordance with sovereignty principles and specific circumstances".

Ash flew to the nuclear-powered carrier for a two-hour visit on April 15, as it sailed about 100 km west of the Philippine island of Luzon.

Experts said the move likely irritated Beijing as Carter was accompanied by his Philippine counterpart, Voltaire Gazmin.

Last week, the US Pacific Command revealed they had sent six powerful A-10 Thunderbolt fighter jets near the Scarborough Shoal, which China occupies but Manila also claims.

The Chinese Defence Ministry had expressed concern over the flight.

It's not the first time China has turned down port calls by US warships.

During the Thanksgiving holidays in 2007, Beijing rejected the USS Kitty Hawk's visit to Hong Kong after Washington announced an advanced missile deal with Taiwan and US President George W Bush met the Dalai Lama.

However, the Kitty Hawk was allowed to dock in the city five month later in April 2008, as Sino-US military relations returned to normal.

The Stennis carrier strike group is currently operating in the South China Sea, whole of which is claimed by China, causing territorial disputes with the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam and other Asian countries.

The consulate said it had originally arranged public tours aboard the Stennis for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Cancellation notices had been sent out to invitees, the consulate official said.

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First Published: Fri, April 29 2016. 20:49 IST