Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Nimitz Approved for Hong Kong Port Call

The USS Nimitz aircraft carrier has been approved to make a port call to Hong Kong early this month, but there was no decision yet on a similar request from the USS Kitty Hawk, China's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. A decision on the Kitty Hawk request would be made "according to the specific information and on a case-by-case basis," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said, without elaborating. "We have approved the Nimitz application to pay a port call to Hong Kong in early April," she said. The Kitty Hawk battle group tried to make a long-scheduled visit to Hong Kong last Thanksgiving, but was told upon arrival that officials there had not received notification from Beijing to grant access. The incident drove a wedge between U.S. and Chinese authorities, who had seen their relations warm in recent years. The top U.S. commander in the Asia-Pacific, Adm. Timothy Keating, said Beijing's behavior was unacceptable.
USS Nimitz (CVN-68)
Beijing later said the U.S. military had not followed the correct procedure. Some analysts suggested China was retaliating against the U.S. for awarding the Dalai Lama with the U.S. Congress' highest civilian honor. Although the West views the Dalai Lama as a figure of moral authority, Beijing demonizes the Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate as a troublemaker who seeks to split Tibet from the rest of China. The USS Blue Ridge, which docked in Hong Kong in late January, was the first Navy ship to visit the former British colony after the Kitty Hawk incident. Known for its colorful nightlife, Hong Kong is a favored destination among U.S. sailors. The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

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