China must explain snub of Kitty Hawk
A U.S. aircraft carrier was denied permission by China to dock at Hong Kong.
CHINA slammed the door in the face of 8,000 sailors and airmen aboard the USS Kitty Hawk who had plans to spend the Thanksgiving weekend in Hong Kong. The aircraft carrier was due to arrive last Wednesday for a four-day visit until the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a last-minute refusal of the port call.
The ministry reversed itself a day later, but by that time the carrier was en route back to its base in Japan. Hundreds of family members had flown to Hong Kong from the United States, the Philippines and Japan to spend the holiday with the sailors. An explanation and apology are in order.
Adm. Timothy Keating, who heads the U.S. Pacific Command from Hawaii, said he was "perplexed and concerned," and understandably so. Military relations with China seemed to be improving of late, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates' visit to Beijing earlier this month as high-level commanders traveled back and forth between the two powers. Chinese warships visited Pearl Harbor last year, and the two navies have conducted joint search-and-rescue exercises.
The incident came several days after China denied two U.S. minesweepers permission to enter Hong Kong to refuel and take shelter from bad weather in the South China Sea.
China gave no reason for the initial refusal to Kitty Hawk, and its explanation that the reversal came "out of humanitarian consideration only" is almost gross in the context of China's dismal record on human rights. The reason for the initial refusal was anybody's guess.
Was China upset by President Bush greeting the Dali Lama? Was it angry about U.S. plans to sell weapons to Taiwan? Has it anything to do with tainted toys made in China? The United States deserves answers.
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