China bans US warship from docking in Hong Kong amid heightening tensions

Diplomatic feud escalates following tariffs and sanctions imposed by Washington on Beijing

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 26 September 2018 13:38 BST
USS Wasp has been denied request to dock in Hong Hong
USS Wasp has been denied request to dock in Hong Hong

China has blocked a US warship from a scheduled visit to a Hong Kong port amid rising tensions between the two nations over an ongoing trade war and new military sanctions.

The USS Wasp was due to lay anchor off the former British colony in October.

But the Chinese government has denied a request for the amphibious assault ship to dock in its territory, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

It follows the escalation of rows over both tariffs and sanctions. On Tuesday China cancelled joint military talks which would have seen the head of its navy visit Washington in protest against a US decision to sanction a Chinese military agency.

The US State Department imposed sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department (EDD) and its director Li Shangfu last week for buying Russian fighter jets and a surface-to-air missile system.

Beijing is also angry about the US State Department’s approval of the sale of F-16 fighter jet parts and other military aircraft to Taiwan in a deal reported to be worth up to $330m.

In a Wednesday editorial, the state-run China Daily said the Taiwan military sale would only worsen ties with China.

“Now that the Trump administration is aggressively seeking to challenge China’s interests on both the economic and military fronts, one wonders whether Washington wants to permanently damage Sino-US relations,” the newspaper stated.

Beijing and Washington continue to bicker over tariffs. On Monday the Trump administration revealed new, 10 per cent tariffs on $200bn-worth of goods from China. It prompted China to hit back with 5 and 10 per cent tariffs on $60bn-worth of US goods.

China’s deputy trade negotiator, Wang Shouwen, said resuming trade talks was unlikely. “How could you negotiate with someone when he puts a knife on your neck?”

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang did not confirm whether China had formally denied the Hong Kong docking request for the USS Wasp.

“For requests for US military ships to visit Hong Kong, China has always carried out approvals case by case, in accordance with the principle of sovereignty and the detailed situation,” he said.

China previously denied a request for a US carrier strike group to visit Hong Kong in 2016, during a period of tension over its territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea.

On Tuesday, a senior Chinese diplomat warned both countries against retreating into a “Cold War mentality”.

At a meeting with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the United Nations, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi said: “China and the United States can have competition, but should not use a Cold War mentality to view each other, and nor should they slip into the trap of a zero-sum game.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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