US Navy ship makes 1st China visit since arbitration ruling

QINGDAO, China (AP) — The U.S. Navy is making its first ship visit to China since Beijing responded angrily to an arbitration panel’s ruling that its expansive South China Sea maritime claims had no basis in law.

The guided missile destroyer USS Benfold docked Monday morning at Qingdao, the home port of China’s northern fleet.

Speaking briefly to media, Cmdr. Just L. Harts said the visit aimed to build relationships with the Chinese Navy but referred questions on tensions in the South China Sea to Pacific Command in Hawaii.

Admiral Scott Swift, the top U.S. naval officer in Asia, plans to meet the media Tuesday

China rejected last month’s ruling by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in a case initiated by the Philippines, and refused to take part in the arbitration.