China has turned down another US Navy ship's request to make a port call in Hong Kong on New Year's Eve, bringing to three the number of vessels caught up in the dispute. The denial, announced today, accompanied China's last-minute decision last week to bar USS Kitty Hawk from visiting Hong Kong on Thanksgiving, Bloomberg reports.
USS Reuben James will find another place in the region to watch the ball drop, but China's move may further strain already-fraught diplomatic relations. Contradicting the foreign minister's assurance to President Bush that the Kitty Hawk situation arose from a misunderstanding, a ministry spokesman blamed the chill on Bush's recent meeting with the Dalai Lama. (Read more China stories.)