Aug 12. - The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan docks in Hong Kong, two days after China's first aircraft carrier embarked on its maiden run. Nick Rowlands reports. Nick Rowlands reports.
The United States nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, at dock in Hong Kong harbour. The visit on Friday comes two days after China launched its first ever aircraft carrier on a test run. The refitted former Soviet vessel marks an important step forward in China's long-term plan to modernise its navy, and project power into the Asian region. This maiden voyage has boosted national pride but caused some concern, though US Navy Rear Admiral Robert Girrier says the port call had been planned for months. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED STATES NAVY REAR ADMIRAL ROBERT P. GIRRIER: "Our president and senior U.S. officials have mentioned that we welcome the rise of China as a stable, prosperous and peaceful country and China's not a threat, so again, our focus is always going to be on helping to enhance the stability and security in the region." Since departing its home port of San Diego in February, the navy says ships from the carrier were first to the scene in Japan following the March earthquake and tsunami. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED STATES NAVY PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER KATE MEADOWS: "That was my first time experiencing something like that and it was a great feeling to know that you were helping people that they were in such need and going through that. So, it was an amazing experience. We were glad that we could support like we did." In the past year, China has had run-ins at sea with Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Its growing naval reach has triggered regional fears that have fed into long-standing territorial disputes, and could speed up military expansion across Asia. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.