Navy chief says resumed port calls a positive outcome of China trip
By TARA COPP | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 26, 2016
WASHINGTON — Port visits by U.S. warships to China are likely to restart following a visit in Beijing last week, Adm. John Richardson said Tuesday.
“I think there was some progress made – talking about the importance of the port calls, making sure they happen,” said Richardson, the chief of naval operations.
In April, USS John C. Stennis and four other warships that were part of the aircraft carrier’s strike group were denied entry into Hong Kong. The denial followed months of increased tensions between the two countries in the South China Sea where China has built-up man-made islands and the United States has challenged their territorial claim by cruising ships close to those islands.
Richardson’s visit last week coincided with a recent international court ruling against China’s reclamation activities in the South China Sea. During the admiral’s visit, China reiterated it would not abide by the court ruling and would continue to develop the islands.
Richardson spent three days visiting with the People’s Liberation Army Navy in China and met with his counterpart, Adm. Wu Shengli. During the visit, the two sides discussed the South China Sea claims, but also areas of cooperation.
Richardson said the port calls were one area where the two sides were able to make progress.
“There’s a general agreement between [the] two sides we can increase those mutual port calls overall to each other’s benefit,” he said. “There was one [port call] in the near term that we were planning on, wanted to make sure it was confirmed – all seemed to say it’s on track.”
However, Richardson would not elaborate on the details.