For John, BLUF: This is a problem and the Administration either steps up or we cede our rights. Nothing to see here; just move along.
The Aircraft Carrier USS JOHN C STENNIS, which had been scheduled for a port call at Hong Kong, was disinvited Thursday.
China has denied a U.S. carrier strike group’s request for a port visit to Hong Kong next week amid escalating tensions in the adjacent South China Sea.This is a clear signal from the Chinese Government that, from Beijing's perspective, the United States is not being sufficiently conciliatory just because it is not conducting Freedom of Navigation (FON) Operations directly off Chinese artificial islands in the South China Sea. Put another way, it isn't enough that we don't conduct FON Operations, they expect us to concede that, just like Hawaii is part of the US, the South China Sea is part of China.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs notified the U.S. Thursday of its decision to deny the USS John C. Stennis and its escort ships access to the former British colony, Darragh Paradiso, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, said by phone. The ministry provided no explanation for the move, she said.
Recently the issue has been Scarborough Shoal, off the coast of the Philippines, as shown in this Wikipedia map:
From the Chinese perspective the United States has NO BUSINESS in the South China Sea, except to transit to other points. That is to say, China expects the United States to provide suitable information (time of entry/exit, course/flight plan, etc.), and to refrain from all actions other than just passing through.
And since the United States will not accept this "proper, gracious" way of behaving in Chinese territory, China has no reason to invite the United States to spend some time in Hong Kong.
So why are we continuing to invite China to participate in international Naval Exercises, such as RIMPAC?
How does this play into President Obama's foreign policy, articulated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the Pivot to Asia?
We are going to have to pick up our game.
The other option is to just cede to China the fact that the South China Sea is a Chinese lake, controlled by them, and the rights of other nations, such as the Philippines and Viet-nam, are to be ignored.
Regards — Cliff