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China to Allow US Warship Visit - 2002-04-13


The Chinese government says U.S. warships can visit Hong Kong soon. The decision comes just weeks after Beijing refused permission for a similar visit by another U.S. ship.

A U.S. consulate spokeswoman in Hong Kong says Beijing has approved a request for a visit from a Navy ship.

Spokeswoman Barbara Zigli, however, says the date of the visit and the name of the ship can not be released until shortly before the arrival.

U.S. Navy ships regularly visit Hong Kong, a practice that dates back to its early days as a British colony. Visits have continued since Beijing assumed control of the territory in 1997. The Chinese government, however, has occasionally denied permission for ship visits at times when relations with the United States are strained.

In March, Beijing rejected a request for a port call by the USS Curtis Wilbur, a guided-missile destroyer based in Japan. The visit had been scheduled for early April.

Although China did not given a reason for refusing that visit, Beijing last month expressed anger over a top Taiwan defense official's visit to the U.S., Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province and resents U.S. support for the island's capitalist government.

For many Hong Kong merchants, U.S. Navy visits are lucrative. Sailors shop, dine and drink in the city's big entertainment districts. In addition, the ships often purchase supplies for their deployments in Hong Kong.

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