China's last-minute cancellation of a U.S. Navy visit to Hong Kong was not the result of a misunderstanding, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Thursday, adding that ties had been "disturbed and harmed" by Congress' honoring of the Dalai Lama and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
Spokesman Liu Jianchao denounced an earlier report from Washington that said Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told President Bush the incident was a misunderstanding.
But Liu offered no concrete explanation as to why China barred the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk and its escort vessels from entering Hong Kong harbor for a planned Thanksgiving visit.
"The report is not in line with the facts," Liu said at a regular news briefing.
He refused to elaborate, but his negative characterization of U.S.-China relations appeared to indicate that Beijing had canceled the visit deliberately in order to register its displeasure over U.S. actions, as it has occasionally with previous Hong Kong port calls.
Liu said "erroneous" actions on the part of the U.S. had "disturbed and harmed" relations.
He pointed to the U.S. Congress' awarding its highest civilian honor to the Dalai Lama last month. Though the Tibetan spiritual leader is lauded in much of the world as a figure of moral authority, Beijing demonizes the monk and claims he seeks to destroy China's sovereignty by pushing for independence for Tibet.