China Refuses Entry of US Military Plane to Hong Kong
China has refused to let a US military plane into Hong Kong after considering "related factors" surrounding a requested visit by a US P-3C military aircraft, state press reported Sunday.
"As to applications of foreign military planes and military vessels to visit Hong Kong, we have taken into consideration of their specific requests and other related factors before we ratify them case by case," foreign ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi was quoted by Xinhua news agency said.
She failed specifically to elaborate on what "related factors" prevented the US military plane from landing in Hong Kong.
The P-3C, a land-based long-range reconnaissance plane which often engages in submarine warfare, is similar to the US E-P3 electronic spy plane that collided with a Chinese fighter jet in international air space over the South China Sea on April 1.
The refusal to allow the visit also comes after two US aircraft-carrier battle groups staged a rare exercise in the South China Sea on Friday in an apparent show of support for Taiwan, as China conducted its biggest ever war games in the neighboring Taiwan Strait.
The USS Carl Vinson and the USS Constellation led the one-day exercise involving 13 other vessels including three submarines, about 150 aircraft and more than 15,000 personnel.
However, some 6,500 crew members of the USS Constellation and six other US navy vessels have already been approved to visit Hong Kong on Monday with an expected 28-million dollar boost to the former British colony.
China has begun final preparations for its largest ever military exercises, simulating an invasion of the Taiwan-controlled Penghu islands, the Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po said Sunday.
In the third phase of the "Liberation No.1" drill on Dongshan island on the Chinese side of the Taiwan Strait, People's Liberation Army troops will be trained to "strongly resist US intervention" over Taiwan, the daily said.
US naval ship visits to Hong Kong were suspended following the April 1 mid-air collision, which greatly soured bilateral relations and was the first foreign crisis for the newly elected President George W. Bush.
The collision killed the Chinese pilot and left the US plane crew stranded at a southern China air base as the two nations bickered over who was responsible for the incident.
Following a US apology, the two sides agreed to discuss how to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future. US ship visits to Hong Kong were resumed last month -- BEIJING (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)