Friday, May 28, 1999

China puts off visit
to isles because of
Belgrade bombing

By Gregg K. Kakesako


A scheduled visit by two Chinese warships to Pearl Harbor next month -- the first since 1997 -- has been postponed because of the crisis resulting from the NATO bombing of Beijing's embassy in Belgrade.

A Chinese destroyer and oiler were supposed to visit Pearl Harbor June 14-17 and then travel to Seattle for another port call June 25-28. But both of those visits have been postponed, the Navy said yesterday.

This follows China's current ban on U.S. warships visiting Hong Kong in May and June.

So far, five U.S. warships, including the nuclear attack submarine USS Honolulu, have been denied port calls into Hong Kong, Lt. Col. Col. Kevin Krejcarek, Pacific Command spokesman, said.

Krejcarek also said Beijing has cut all military-to-military contact through the end of this month.

"We are hopeful that this (contact) will resume soon," he said.

Adm. Dennis Blair, who became commander of the Hawaii-based Pacific Command Feb. 20, had been scheduled to travel to Beijing with Defense Secretary William Cohen earlier this year.

But that visit was postponed when NATO started bombing Kosovo several weeks ago.

The bombing of the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia also resulted in Gov. Ben Cayetano and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau calling off tourism promotional visits.

Three Chinese warships -- two destroyers and one oiler carrying 800 sailors -- docked at Pearl Harbor for a four-day visit in March 1997. Their visit was the second time a Chinese warship had come to the United States. The first visit was in 1989.

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