By Michal Thim/Ketagalan Media

On April 29, the Chinese government denied the USS John C. Stennis, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, access to Hong Kong port. The refusal could have been a matter of simple inconvenience since another ship of the U.S. Navy, a command ship of the Japan-based 7th Fleet USS Blue Ridge, had already been allowed to dock in Hong Kong at the same time (from there, Blue Ridge embarked on a scheduled visit to Shanghai). However, aircraft carriers do not usually come into ports without arrangements made well in advance. The last minute nature of the refusal thus raises reasonable suspicions.

The broader context of the decision and subsequent debates tell us a few things about the military dimension of Sino-US relations, its relative importance for both the U.S. and China, and challenges it presents for stronger U.S.-Taiwan relations.

First, the context: John C. Stennis was en route from Singapore back to its Japan home after conducting a freedom of navigation mission in the hotly disputed South China Sea. Though freedom of navigation missions are intended to challenge all claimants in South China Sea, China is the most visible target, having embarked on extensive artificial island building that is turning barely visible features into military outposts. Further, while conducting operations in the South China Sea, the carrier hosted Defense Secretary Ash, who spoke against unilateral changes to the South China Sea status quo by any of the claimants.

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The full piece is published on Ketagalan Media here: US Misses Chance After USS Stennis denied Hong Kong Access.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White