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Beijing Denies US Navy Request for F-35 Carrier Port Call in Hong Kong

China denied a request from the US Navy’s USS Wasp F-35 carrier to make a port call in Hong Kong amid trade tensions between the superpowers and Beijing’s recent decision to recall an admiral from participating in the International Seapower Symposium in Rhode Island.

US ships have been turned away from docking at the former British colony twice in three years despite a history of "successful" port calls, American diplomatic sources told Reuters. "The Chinese government did not approve a request for a US port visit to Hong Kong by the USS Wasp."

Capt. Kyle P. Higgins, commanding officer of the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge, conducts a ship tour with Vice Adm. Jinlong Shen of the People's Liberation Army Navy. - Sputnik International
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"We have a long track record of successful port visits to Hong Kong, and we expect that to continue," the US official added. The USS Wasp is the first ship in the US Marine Corps to carry F-35B short-takeoff vertical landing (STOVL) jets. The vessel deployed to the Indo-Pacific theater in March, Sputnik reported.

"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," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday.

Meanwhile, US officials "were informed that Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong has been recalled to China and won't conduct a visit with Admiral [John] Richardson," Army Lt. Col. David Eastburn told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday.

China summoned US Ambassador Terry Branstad on Saturday to inform him that the People's Liberation Army-Navy would push back US-China military discussions in the wake of Washington's decision to sanction Chinese officials for buying Russian Su-35 aircraft and S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, Reuters reported.

Washington and Beijing have also traded jabs on trade. The White House announced tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods last week that took effect on Monday, while Beijing responded with tariffs on $60 billion worth of US goods that also took effect September 24.

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2017 file photo, an American flag is flown next to the Chinese national emblem during a welcome ceremony for visiting U.S. President Donald Trump outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing - Sputnik International
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Adding strain to the deteriorating ties, Beijing expressed "strong dissatisfaction" Tuesday regarding the US sale of $330 million worth of F-15 and C-130 aircraft parts to Taiwan, Asia Times reported. Chinese officials view the self-ruling territory as a runaway province.

"The bigger question is how this [sale] will affect the US-China relations," Yun Sun, co-director of the East Asia program at the Stimson Center, told Sputnik News Tuesday via email. "We are now faced with escalation of tension between the two, to the extent that some are calling it a new Cold War. The arms sales to Taiwan are both a catalyst and a manifestation of this contentious relationship between Beijing and Washington."

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