The Chinese government has blocked a US Navy ship from docking in Hong Kong amid a growing diplomatic feud between the two countries over strict military sanctions imposed by Washington.
The USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship comparable to a baby aircraft carrier, with a crew of more than 1,000 sailors, was scheduled to make a port call in Hong Kong next month according to two US officials.
It isn’t the first time Beijing has canceled a visit by a US warship in protest. Most recently, China denied the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis access to Hong Kong in 2016 after the ship hosted then US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on a visit to the South China Sea.
“The Chinese side reviews and approves such request in accordance with the principle of sovereignty and in light of specific situation on a case-by-case basis,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
The move is likely to worsen already poor relations between Washington and Beijing, which have steadily deteriorated in the past week following new US sanctions on the Chinese military over their purchases of Russian weaponry.
The US sanctions were imposed on the Chinese military’s Equipment Development Department and its director following the department’s purchase of Russian combat aircraft and missile systems.
China’s response to the new US sanctions has been quick and severe. The decision to cancel the port visit followed Beijing’s move to also withdraw from a high-level meeting between the top Chinese and US naval commanders.