China Disinvited from Major US Military Exercise: Pentagon
The action is an “initial” response to what USA sees as Beijing’s militarization of islands in the South China Sea.
The United States has disinvited China from a major US-hosted naval drill this year as an "initial" response to what it sees as Beijing's militarization of islands in the South China Sea, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, 23 May.
“As an initial response to China’s continued militarization of the South China Sea we have disinvited the PLA Navy from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise,” Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
The Pentagon said there was "strong evidence" that China had deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands.
Over the weekend China's air force landed bombers on islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise in the disputed region.
The move comes on the same day China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.
The Rim of the Pacific exercise, known as RIMPAC, is billed as the world’s largest international maritime exercise, held every two years in Hawaii in June and July, and China has attended previously.
Earlier this month the United States said it had raised concerns with China about its latest militarization of the South China Sea and that there would be near-term and long-term consequences.
Pentagon officials have long complained that China has not been candid enough about its rapid military build-up, whereas Chinese officials have accused Washington of viewing their country in suspicious, “Cold War” terms.
The United States has dispatched warships to disputed areas of the South China Sea in a bid to challenge China’s extensive sovereignty claims in the territory, which is subject to various claims by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.
"We have called on China to remove the military systems immediately and to reverse course on the militarization of disputed South China Sea features," Logan said.
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