PRC denies entry to more US carriers
Aside from the USS `Kitty Hawk,' China also rejected a request by the USS `Reuben James' and a cargo plane support mission for the US consulate in Hong Kong
By Charles Snyder
STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON
Sunday, Dec 02, 2007, Page 1
The saga over China's refusal to allow US warships to enter Hong Kong took another twist on Friday, when it was confirmed that Beijing had rejected more US requests for a holiday visit and a consulate support flight to Hong Kong.
Beijing told Washington on Nov. 22 that it was rejecting a request for a New Year's visit by the USS Reuben James, Pentagon East Asia public affairs officer Stewart Upton told the Taipei Times.
That was the same date that Beijing told Washington it made a mistake in rejecting a request by the USS Kitty Hawk and its battle group to visit Hong Kong for Thanksgiving. But by that time, it was too late, and the group sailed back to its Japanese base.
At the same time it rejected the Navy frigate Reuben James' visit, Beijing also nixed the flight of a C-17 cargo plane to Hong Kong for its scheduled quarterly support mission for the US consulate, Upton said.
The rejections appear to have deepened the military crisis between Beijing and Washington, which Chinese foreign ministry officials have linked to the expansion of US arms sales to Taiwan this year.
Over the past three months, the Pentagon has notified Congress of plans to sell more that US$2 billion in major defense systems aimed at countering a Chinese attack on Taiwan.
That has come as Beijing has expressed serious concern over President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) plan for a referendum on joining the UN using the name "Taiwan" to coincide with the presidential election in March.
Potentially adding to the tensions are reports that the Kitty Hawk group, after sailing from the Hong Kong area, traveled through the Taiwan Strait and may have encountered a secret Chinese military exercise simulating an invasion of Taiwan.
At the White House, spokesman Dana Perino said that the Bush administration was "communicating with [Beijing], and I am sure that we will be able to work it out with them ... We are working to make sure that this situation can be resolved."
For the second day in a row, Perino tried to put a positive face on the crisis, emphasizing the positive aspects to US-China relations.
"This incident has not prevented us from being able to work with the Chinese," she told reporters on Friday. "We have a deep and mature relationship."
President George W. Bush believes, Perino said, that "this relationship is growing and maturing, and this is something the two nations should be able to work through, and I don't think escalating it everyday is necessary."
nine in all
The latest Chinese actions brought to nine the number of US warships denied entry into Hong Kong since China took over the territory from Britain in 1997.
That includes the Kitty Hawk and five vessels in its group, the USS Reuben James, and two minesweepers turned away from Hong Kong last month after getting caught in a violent storm at sea.
After the handover, the US and China reached an agreement on port visits that gave China veto over the port calls, but anticipated a routine approval of such visits.
Some 50 US warships visit Hong Kong annually, and port calls have been rejected only in extreme periods of US-China tension, such as the EP-3 incident in 2001 in which a US reconnaissance plane was forced down over Hainan.
The level of turndowns is unprecedented and some observers in Washington think it reflects a new period of US-China tension over Taiwan and Tibet.
Posted on Sat, Dec. 01, 2007
U.S. raises the stakes in spat at sea with China
By TIM JOHNSON
A spat over China’s denial of port calls to U.S. naval vessels has led the Pentagon to deploy an increasing number of large ships to transit the Taiwan Strait.
While the Navy has explained the passage of at least seven ships through the strait — in some of the most sensitive waters in East Asia — in the last nine days as the result of bad weather, it also conveys U.S. displeasure to China over its refusal to let Navy vessels dock in Hong Kong.
China has refused entry to nine Navy vessels into Hong Kong harbor. On Friday, Navy officials said, China denied permission to a U.S. Air Force C-17 flight that had been scheduled for a routine resupply of the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong.
The sudden port denials have angered Pentagon officials, and baffled U.S. policymakers puzzling over the message China seeks to send.
China refused two U.S. minesweepers from entering Hong Kong to escape bad weather on Nov. 21, then barred the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk and its escort ships and an accompanying nuclear-powered submarine from docking in Hong Kong for a long-scheduled Thanksgiving port call.
About 290 family members of Navy seamen had traveled to Hong Kong to be with the sailors during the holiday, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Steve Curry of the U.S. 7th Fleet public affairs office in Yokosuka, Japan.
After China’s refusal of entry, fleet commanders ordered both the minesweepers and the Kitty Hawk carrier group to move through the Taiwan Strait toward Japan.
A Pacific Fleet spokesman in Honolulu, Jon Yoshishige, said it was “not unusual for our ships to transit the Taiwan Strait.”
Yet entire aircraft carrier battle groups rarely do so. The last time that occurred was in 2002, when the USS Constellation aircraft carrier and its escort ships moved through the strait.
A guided missile cruiser and three guided missile destroyers escorted the Kitty Hawk.
The Taiwan Strait, barely 100 miles wide at its narrowest, is a potential military flashpoint. Mainland China claims Taiwan as a renegade province, and says it has the right to seize control of the independently governed island with its military. It aims more than 900 short-range ballistic missiles across the Strait.
About 50 U.S. Navy ships usually make port calls each year in Hong Kong.
China blames U.S. for denial of ship visit to Hong Kong
By David Lague
Thursday, November 29, 2007
China blocked the visit of a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group and other American warships to Hong Kong last week in retaliation for the Bush administration's proposed upgrading of Taiwan's Patriot antimissile batteries, the state media reported Thursday.
Beijing also denied that Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi had told President George W. Bush in a meeting Wednesday that the canceled ship visits were a "misunderstanding," as the White House had reported after the talks.
"Reports that Foreign Minister Yang said in the United States that it was a misunderstanding do not accord with the facts," a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said in Beijing on Thursday, adding that China had "grave concern" about U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan.
Liu also asserted that Bush's meeting with the Dalai Lama in October had damaged ties.
The decision to cancel a Thanksgiving port visit to Hong Kong by the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk and its battle group has renewed tension in the sometimes troubled relationship between the U.S. military and its rapidly modernizing counterpart in China.
Without giving a reason for denying the Kitty Hawk visit, Beijing then reversed its decision on "humanitarian grounds." It was too late; the battle group with its 8,000 sailors was returning to its base in Yokosuka in Japan.
Days before the Kitty Hawk was turned away, China refused permission for two U.S. Navy minesweepers to shelter in Hong Kong's harbor during a storm and to take on supplies. The ships were refueled at sea, the U.S. Navy said.
The Pentagon lodged a formal protest Wednesday with the Chinese government after senior U.S. naval commanders said they were particularly troubled by the unexplained decision to deny the minesweepers refuge.
On Thursday, The Global Times, a tabloid published by the Communist Party newspaper The People's Daily, quoted an unidentified senior navy captain as saying that Taiwan had become an even more sensitive issue because of President Chen Shui-bian's campaign to win a seat for Taiwan at the United Nations.
"But, the U.S. went ahead and sold Taiwan Patriot II missile systems and related equipment," the captain was quoted as saying. "This obviously sends Chen Shui-bian a wrong signal. That is why a lot of activity between China and America was stopped. Under normal circumstances, the U.S. Navy should have changed its port visiting plans."
The captain also told The Global Times that Washington had behaved irrationally by trying to go ahead with the Hong Kong visit after it had announced the Patriot sale. "After the U.S. seriously harms China's interests, it still asks for an embrace from China," the officer said. "There is no reason in the world for us to do so."
The dispute came to the fore even as the Pentagon has been striving to improve ties with the Chinese military, a relationship that reached a low in 2001 after a U.S. Navy surveillance plane and a Chinese attack jet collided in the air off the Chinese coast.
On visits to China in recent months, senior U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and top military officers have called on China to reveal more about the reasons for its rapid increase in defense spending. They have also encouraged more exchanges of senior officers to improve communications and to build trust and understanding.
The sides have agreed to work toward installing a hotline that could reduce the risk of conflict arising from accidents or miscalculations.
Shortly after Gates visited Beijing this month, the Pentagon announced that it would sell Taiwan upgrades to its Patriot missile system for about $940 million.
Security experts said Beijing was strongly opposed to the sale because it could help Taiwan counter the almost-1,000 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles the Chinese military has arrayed against it.
"This is very sensitive to the Chinese side," said Andrei Chang, an expert in Hong Kong on the Chinese and Taiwan militaries and editor in chief of Kanwa Defense Review magazine. "They recognize that this kind of technology will change the military balance in the Taiwan Strait."
A Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell, said Wednesday that the Chinese military attaché in Washington, Major General Zhao Ning, had been summoned to meet with David Sedney, the deputy assistant secretary for China issues.
"Mr. Sedney expressed our deep regret and concern with China's denial of diplomatic clearance for the two minesweepers and the Kitty Hawk," Morrell said.
For the United States, friction over the port visits is a reminder of the difficulty facing Washington as it attempts to engage the increasingly powerful Chinese armed forces while continuing to be Taiwan's most important military ally, analysts said.
The Pentagon and other foreign militaries agree that a top priority for the Chinese is to develop a force that has the firepower to enforce Beijing's claim over Taiwan and deter or defeat the United States if it tries to defend the island.
Quick resolution to this:
Deny entry of Chinese cargo vessels into San Diego Harbor.
It Was No Misunderstanding, Says China
By Patrick Goodenough
CNSNews.com International Editor
November 30, 2007
China made it clear Thursday that its recent decision to deny three U.S. Navy ships entry to the Hong Kong port was not a "misunderstanding" -- as the White House said earlier this week -- but retaliation for American policies.
A day after White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi had told President Bush the decisions to deny entry to the ships were a "misunderstanding," China's foreign ministry flatly contradicted her.
"Reports that Foreign Minister Yang said in the United States that it was a misunderstanding do not accord with the facts," said ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao.
"On the issue of port visits, China acts in accordance with the principles of its sovereignty and approves specific visits on a case-by-case basis," Liu said.
He implied that the decision was linked to U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan, and the recent high-profile visit to the U.S. by Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama, who Beijing reviles as a "separatist."
Actions like last month's meeting between President Bush and the Tibetan leader -- who was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal -- had "disturbed and impaired" bilateral relations, Liu said.
Asked about the discrepancy, Perino told a briefing Thursday that the U.S. was asking the Chinese for clarification, and reiterated that China had earlier attributed the incident to a "miscommunication."
"Regardless, we believe it was wrong," she said of China's refusal to allow the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk to dock in Hong Kong over the Thanksgiving long weekend.
Beijing's last-minute refusal on the eve of the holiday forced the ship and its accompanying vessels to make for its home port in Japan. China later reversed the decision but, Navy officials said, by that time it was too late.
Hundreds of family members had earlier flown to Hong Kong to spend the holiday with their loved ones among the crew, U.S. Pacific Command chief Adm. Timothy Keating said earlier this week.
"It was a tremendous disappointment for them, a lot of expense, and we hope that that would never happen again," Perino said.
But she also sought to play down the episode, calling it "one small incident ... in the big scheme of things, we have very good relations [with China]."
Shortly before the Kitty Hawk was denied entry, China also refused permission for two U.S. Navy minesweepers to enter the port to shelter from an advancing storm. Keating described that incident as even more troubling than the Thanksgiving one, noting that providing safe harbor in bad weather was standard practice.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, and since then, Beijing has on occasion blocked entry to U.S. warships to show displeasure over U.S. policies or actions. The last such incident was also linked to Taiwan - but that was five years ago, and the Pentagon has taken steps to improve relations with the Chinese military since then.
China's long running dispute with Taiwan, which it claims as a renegade province, has deepened over President Chen Shui-bian's plan to hold a referendum next March on whether the self-governing island democracy should be allowed to join the United Nations.
Although the referendum would have little more than symbolic value, China has expressed concern that Chen -- who leaves office next spring -- will use the vote to move Taiwan towards independence.
Beijing has vowed to prevent Taiwan's formal breakaway, by force if necessary, and the Pentagon estimates the Chinese have nearly 1,000 short range ballistic missiles deployed across the Strait, targeting the island.
Although the U.S. government has publicly opposed Chen's referendum plan, the U.S. is also committed under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to help Taiwan to defend itself against unprovoked aggression.
Earlier this month, the Pentagon's Defense Security and Cooperation Agency informed Congress of plans to sell Taiwan upgraded Patriot missile defense equipment. Two months earlier, the DSCA announced plans to sell Taiwan anti-submarine aircraft and missiles "for self-defense against air and cruise missile threats."
Liu on November 14 reacted to the news by saying the U.S. actions "grossly interfere in China's internal affairs, endanger China's national security and peaceful reunification, and also disturb the improvement and development of China-U.S. relations."
He urged the U.S. to stop arms sales "so as not to send any wrong signals to the secessionist forces for Taiwan independence."
Meanwhile, a Chinese Navy destroyer this week is paying the first-ever visit by a Chinese warship to Japan.
The Inside Story of China's Barring of an U.S. Aircraft Carrier
During the Thanksgiving Holiday season, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) suddenly canceled a long planned visit by the US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk to Hong Kong. Although the CCP changed its opinion by "considering humanitarianism," the Kitty Hawk had already left and has no intention of returning. The CCP's fast changing policies have left experts from different fields confused.
It is not easy to understand the syndicate type behavior of the CCP. There is a Chinese saying, "The diplomats shall not be harmed even when the countries are at war with each other." China and the U.S. Secretary of Defense have already agreed on a series of agreements that include establishing military hotlines. According to the CCP's propaganda, its relationship with the U.S. is at the stage of "building constructive ideals and cooperation." However, without any explanation, the CCP barred 8,000 marine officers and crew from entering the docks to meet their waiting relatives. As a result, Hong Kong lost nearly 100 million dollars of consumption on tourism. The hotels wasted thousands of pounds of turkey meat and lettuce. Since the CCP's "humanitarianism" doesn't allow American soldiers to spend money, please allow Zeng Yinquan, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong to send the bill to the CCP's Minister of Finance.
The Kitty Hawk case once again proves the vulnerability of the China-U.S. relationship. The China-U.S. relationship has had its ups and downs and many times has sunk into a crisis. The Tiananmen Massacre in 1989, Taiwanese president Li Denghui's visit to the U.S. in 1995, the Belgrade Explosion at the Chinese embassy in 1999, the China-U.S. aircraft collision in 2001, and in 2005 Chinese general Zhu Chenghu's statement about starting a war with U.S. have all brought China-U.S. relationship to the lowest point. Although the two countries complement each other economically, the fundamental conflicts exist in their values, political systems, human rights policies, military protocol and others that have added difficulty to negotiations. After the aircraft collision happened in 2001, for a time the CCP refused to allow U.S. submarines to enter Hong Kong. The barring of the Kitty Hawk is related to the U.S. sale of an upgrade to Taiwan's missile defense system on November 13.
The CCP's choice to bar the Kitty Hawk is also in the spirit of vindictiveness. The CCP doesn't have any aircraft carriers and the Kitty Hawk has a well-known reputation. It not only assisted military strikes on Afghanistan but also entered Taiwan prior to its election in 1994 to stop the CCP's rash act. Since 1998, the Kitty Hawk has been acting as a flagship in the Taiwan straits crisis which left a sour taste in the CCP's mouth. The CCP once followed the Kitty Hawk using a submarine. Now this feeble attempt to humiliate the Kitty Hawk was simply an effort to balance its backward state of naval supremacy.
Fundamentally, the Kitty Hawk case demonstrates how there have been violent internal struggles since the CCP's 17th National Congress. This case was caused by Zeng Qinghong and has become a headache for Xi Jinping. It's also a tactic to humiliate Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao.
Hu Jintao is the head of the CCP's Leading Group for Taiwan Affairs but not the leader of the Hong Kong and Macaw coordination team. Of course Hu won't become involved with the Kitty Hawk case at the beginning. Zeng Qinghong acting in spite of the U.S. for selling Taiwan the missile upgrading system was most likely case for asking Xi to reject the Kitty Hawk's docking in Hong Kong. As Xi used to rely on Zeng, he had to accept the order. In the end, Hu and Wen interfered with the incident, but the Kitty Hawk had already left.
The Kitty Hawk case continues to cloud the relationship between the U.S. and China and fosters suspicion among Hong Kong's people about Xi's problem solving ability. Furthermore, it makes Hu's idea of a "harmonious world" look absurd.
And guess who will bend over and take this from the CHICOMs. Yes the Bush administration will.
I wonder what will happen with the Chi-coms deny us the use of the Panama Canal.
Long Beach too! There are many others.
Was it Karter ro Klinton who was so kind to do that?
What's the big deal if China won't let the warships of an enemy dock at their ports?
It's not like we would ever allow a Russian or Chinese warship dock at Norfolk.
Of course they will.
Carter I think?
What's worse is the denial of the resupply flight to the US mission there. That kind of behavior is enough for us to start doing similar stuff to their diplomats.
The Chinese own the port facilities at Long Beach.
Quicker solution, quit arming their neighbors.
Dear United States, could you please mind your own business? Our government will not allow its own citizens to own automatic small arms, or hell, even automatic pocket knives because they can't be trusted, but they arm other governments with planes, bombs, and missiles. Good thinking George.
The Chinese response seems appropriate and is another example of US foreign policy blowback. WTF did we expect them to do?