A US Navy aircraft carrier strike group steamed into Hong Kong on Wednesday, less than two months after China denied a similar visit by a US warship.
The decision by authorities in Beijing to allow the US Navy to dock in the semi-autonomous Chinese city has been interpreted as an effort to ease tensions ahead of next week's G-20 summit in Argentina, during which Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump are expected to meet.
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville, and guided-missile destroyers USS Benfold and USS Curtis Wilbur were cleared for the visit to Hong Kong, according to the Hong Kong Maritime Department.
The visit comes just two days after the US Air Force flew B-52 bombers in the vicinity of the South China Sea, where China has built military fortifications on contested islands.
And less than two months ago, tensions spiked after US and Chinese destroyers came within 45 yards of each other while the US ship, the USS Decatur, was performing a "freedom of navigation" operation near Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea. US officials called the Chinese ship's actions "unsafe.