The USS Kitty Hawk was forced to return to Japan after China barred the carrier from entering Hong Kong harbor.
The USS Kitty Hawk was forced to return to Japan after China barred the carrier from entering Hong Kong harbor. (By Katsumi Kasahara -- Associated Press)
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

China's Port-Visit Denial Troubles Navy Admirals

Two of the Navy's top admirals said yesterday that China's refusal to let a U.S. aircraft carrier make a Thanksgiving port call at Hong Kong was surprising and troubling.

"This is perplexing. It's not helpful," Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told reporters in a video teleconference from his headquarters at Camp Smith, Hawaii.

"It's not, in our view, conduct that is indicative of a country that understands its obligations as a responsible nation," he said, adding that he hopes it does not indicate a lasting blockage of port visits.

The USS Kitty Hawk, which has its home port near Tokyo, was forced to return early to Japan when Chinese authorities at the last minute barred the warship and its escort vessels from entering Hong Kong harbor.

Keating said that by the time the Chinese acted, hundreds of family members of sailors aboard the USS Kitty Hawk had already flown to Hong Kong from their homes in Japan to join in the port visit.

Asked about seeking an explanation from the Chinese, Keating said he had not heard from Chinese military authorities and that it would be a matter for the State Department.

In separate remarks at the Pentagon, Adm. Gary Roughead, called the Chinese action disruptive.

Roughead, who was commander of U.S. naval forces in the Pacific before he replaced Adm. Mike Mullen as chief of naval operations on Sept. 29, said he was even more troubled by China's refusal, several days before the Kitty Hawk incident, to let two U.S. Navy minesweepers enter Hong Kong harbor to escape an approaching storm and receive fuel. The minesweepers, the Patriot and the Guardian, were instead refueled at sea and returned safely to their home port in Japan, he said.

Before last week's incidents, the previous time a U.S. Navy ship was denied entry to Hong Kong harbor was in 2002, Cmdr. Pamela Kunze said.

Tamiflu Warnings Need Revision, Advisers Say

Roche Holding AG should revise warnings on its Tamiflu flu treatment about the risk of delirium, hallucinations and psychotic behavior, especially in children, a U.S. panel said.

Outside advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted 9 to 5 that Tamiflu's prescribing information doesn't adequately explain side effects reported by hundreds of patients in Japan and the United States. The panel will vote next whether to suggest revisions to information for GlaxoSmithKline Plc's flu treatment Relenza.

Tamiflu sales have fallen since safety concerns were raised two years ago, and the FDA found similar reports when it expanded its review to include Relenza. Most of the side effects have been reported in children, especially in Japan, where the products are more widely used. Roche representatives said that the flu itself, not Tamiflu, caused the side effects.

"We feel that the current U.S. prescribing information is an accurate assessment of the current data," Jonathan Solsky, Roche's director of drug-safety risk management, told the FDA panel.

The Switzerland-based Roche says studies show the virus caused the psychiatric side effects seen in a small number of patients who take Tamiflu.

In the United States, an estimated 36,000 people die and 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of complications from the flu. Young children and the elderly are especially vulnerable.

-- From News Services

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