Wednesday, Mar 27, 2002
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By Amit Baruah
SINGAPORE, March 26. In a sign of deteriorating Sino-U.S. relations, the Chinese Government has banned a Hong Kong port call by an American naval vessel.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said in Beijing today that the decision was based on an "overall consideration of all the various factors''. China has been unhappy with the state of bilateral relations with the U.S. for sometime now _ an unhappiness that has grown following the recent visit of the Taiwan "Defence Minister'' to Washington. The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that decisions on port calls were taken on a case-to-case basis.
Separately, a spokeswoman for the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong said: "The Chinese Government denied a request for the USS Curtis Wilbur....to visit Hong Kong (from) April 5 to 9. This would have been a routine port call.'' ``There was no reason given for the disapproval and I am not going to speculate about it,'' she added. The Chinese press has been full of anti-American sentiment lately, with one official commentary going as far as to say that a "freezing wind was blowing in China-U.S. relations''.
China has also accused the U.S. of not adhering to three joint communiqués, which Beijing maintains is the basis of the relationship with Washington. The U.S., Beijing has said, much adhere to the "one China'' principle.
China today refused to say whether its Vice-President and expected future leader will still make a planned visit to the U.S.
The trip by Hu Jintao was announced when the U.S. President, George W. Bush, visited Beijing in February, and was expected to take place in April or May. The visit is hotly anticipated in Washington because Mr. Hu is the heir-apparent to Jiang Zemin, who is expected to retire as China's President and head of the ruling Communist Party over the next year.
But the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Zhang Qiyue, declined to answer today when reporters asked at a regular press briefing whether Mr. Hu's visit was still on. Instead, she accused Washington of committing a ``series of erroneous acts interfering in China's internal affairs'' following Mr. Bush's visit.
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