China has mentioned that it will not permit a U.S. Navy warship to visit its northeastern port of Qingdao, marking the second time in latest weeks that Beijing has rebuffed what’s a routine request and underscoring trade tensions with Washington and accusations that the U.S. is behind the unrest in Hong Kong.
In an announcement on Wednesday, U.S. 7th Fleet public affairs officer Cmdr. Reann Mommsen stated China had “denied the U.S. Navy’s request.” She didn’t identify the warship in question and referred questions in regards to the purpose of the decision to Beijing.
The refusal to permit the visit comes as Beijing and Washington are locked in a bitter trade war, and Chinese officials have cast a wary eye on increasing anti-government violence in Hong Kong, the place pro-democracy protests have gone on for months.
Starting last year, President Trump has ratcheted up tariffs on Chinese imports, and Beijing has retaliated by slapping its tariffs on U.S. goods.
The Group of Seven Summit in France, which concluded on Monday, Trump mentioned Chinese trade officials had contacted their U.S. counterparts asking to “get back to the table” and hammer out a trade deal. However, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang stated Tuesday he had not heard of any such contact.
Also on Tuesday, China’s official Xinhua media accused the U.S. of “the outdated methods of bullying and maximum pressure,” which it mentioned were aimed at ” coercing China into accepting its irrational demands.”
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, where protests that began peacefully in early June have grown into a direct challenge to Beijing’s authority within the city, China has accused the U.S. of aiding the protesters and fomenting unrest.
Earlier this month, China also denied without clarification a request for two U.S. warships, the U.S.Lake Erie (a guided-missile cruiser) and the U.S.Green Bay (an amphibious transport), to call at Hong Kong.
Though such requests are considered routine courtesies, it is also not unusual for them to be denied in times of heightened tensions between host and guest.
Last September, China turned down a request for an amphibious assault ship, USS Wasp, to name at Hong Kong, citing U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. However, two months later it permitted an identical request for a visit by the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.