THAT the People’s Republic China refused, on Friday, to allow the US Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John Stennis to make a Hong Kong port call is a signal that our neighbor to the north with about one-fourth of the entire population of our planet is angrier than it was before with the United States – and perhaps the Philippines too – for its recent actions in the South China (West Philippine) Sea and its words about supporting our country against Chinese bullying.
A Pentagon spokesman, according to an Agence France-Presse report written in Washington, DC, said China has denied the US aircraft carrier USS Stennis and accompanying naval vessels permission to make a port call in Hong Kong.
Of course the Pentagon spokesman had to say it was not immediately known what prompted the Chinese action, but, as AFP reported, the rejection “comes amid growing tension between the two countries over Beijing’s moves to assert its claims to much of the South China Sea.”
Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman, was quoted as saying: “We have a long track record of successful port visits to Hong Kong, including with the current visit of the USS Blue Ridge, and we expect that will continue.” Urban also said that this was the first time US naval ships had been denied permission to make a Hong Kong port call since Aug. 2014.
AFP noted that the Chinese Foreign Ministry told Hong Kong’s daily South China Morning Post that port calls by US ships are decided by Chinese authorities on a “case by case basis in accordance with sovereignty principles and specific circumstances.”
The Stennis had been in the Philippines. It had sailed off but it was ordered to go back to Subic after US surveillance saw that China had flown military aircraft into the newly built Chinese structures in the West Philippine Sea.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter visited the aircraft carrier on April 15 as it sailed off our country near the disputed area where China has expanded islets and reefs into islands capable of supporting airfields and other installations.
During a preceding stop in Manila, Carter had emphasized that the United States would support the Philippines and other allies as they faced “coercion and intimidation.”
The Philippines and the US have also announced that they have begun joint naval patrols in the South China Sea. Secretary Carter said a contingent of 275 US troops and five A-10 ground attack aircraft in the Philippines for an annual exercise would remain in our country until the end of today.
The entire South China Sea, of which a major part is the West Philippine Sea, is claimed by China, including waters that clearly belong to us.
While China is an old friend and trading partner and the origin of some of the wealthiest Filipinos, and Chinese-Filipinos control probably 80 percent of the most important Philippine corporations and essential enterprises, we Filipinos – including Chinese-Filipinos – must not allow the Chinese government, its navy and coast guard to do what they want in our seas and to our reefs and islets without protest or putting up a fight, even the weak fight of a bullying victim.
And we must welcome the aid given by strong powers, like the United States. We must also ask other victims of Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea to continue being our allies against China in this David-and-Goliath conflict.