Beijing has refused to greenlight visits by the USS Green Bay, an amphibious dock landing ship, and the USS Lake Erie, a guided missile cruiser, to Hong Kong, the US Navy said Tuesday. The Green Bay set out from Japan’s Okinawa with 700 Marines on board and was supposed to arrive in the semi-autonomous Chinese city on Saturday. The Lake Erie, based in California, was expected in Hong Kong next month.

Hong Kong has been gripped by mass protests since March, when thousands took to the streets to protest a proposed extradition law that would have allowed suspects to be handed over to the mainland. The law has been suspended, but the protests have not subsided, instead taking on a broader agenda.

China has accused the US of inciting the protests, with China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday calling the statement by the US Congress leadership denouncing police actions and encouraging the quest for “freedom, justice and democracy” in Hong Kong “new and powerful evidence” of US meddling. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he “can’t imagine why” the protests are being linked to the US. On Tuesday, fierce clashes between police and protesters broke out at Hong Kong international airport as demonstrators attempted to block outgoing flights. At least one US flag was spotted in the protest crowd.

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