Pentagon Uninvites China From Major US Military Exercise

by Garry Watts May 27, 2018, 14:12
Pentagon Uninvites China From Major US Military Exercise

Separately Congressman Mac Thornberry, who is Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said this year's National Defense Authorization Act or NDAA prioritizes military readiness and strengthens key partnerships while also underscoring that the long-term strategic competition with China is a principal priority for the US.

"China is only building civilian and some necessary defense facilities on our own islands", he said.

The Pentagon's decision may presage a harder line than the Trump administration has previously taken on the South China Sea dispute.

The Spratly archipelago is disputed from six countries: Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei. This year, Brazil, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are to take part in the biennial exercises that unfold near the Hawaiian Islands and off the coast of California. China had also landed bomber aircrafts at Woody Island, inching their military close to the other disputed islands in the South China Sea, like the Paracel Islands.

FILE - A sailor in China's People's Liberation Army Navy hoists the Chinese flag after arriving at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam to participate in the multinational military exercise RIMPAC in Honolulu, Hawaii, June 29, 2016.

The news of the explosion comes at a time when China is stepping up militarization of disputed islands in global waters and chased out 10 fishing boats of foreign origin.

Pentagon officials have long complained that China has been using South China Sea islands to gather intelligence and that China has not been candid enough about its rapid military buildup in the region. "China's landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island has also raised tensions", the Pentagon wrote in a relevant statement, stressing that these developments are a violation of the promise Chinese President Xi Jinping made to former President Barack Obama that China would not attempt to militarize the South China Sea. The move is said to be in response to Beijing's recent escalation of the militarization of islands in the South China Sea, which has been well-documented by worldwide reports. In addition, it wants China to roll back policies that require the transfer of intellectual property to Chinese firms as a condition for access to the Chinese market. Since 1972, the USA has recognized China as the sole legitimate government, but has offered arms to Taiwan.

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He criticized Navy leaders for appeasing the Chinese with consecutive invitations to exercise despite increasing Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. "China's behaviour is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the Rimpac exercise". China has participated in the naval drills since 2014.

"We were determined to persuade them to leave and chase them away from the area", Chiem said.

Besides, China's past record at RIMPAC isn't exactly stellar.

"I also want to stress that it is the USA who proposed to enhance mil-to-mil exchanges between the two countries in the first place".

"The Nansha region faces severe military pressure, especially since Trump took office and increased freedom of navigation patrols".

Fanell is a long-time critic of unfettered military engagement with China and stated in a recent article that the initial invitation in June 2017 would "someday be remembered as the formal beginning of the end of USA influence in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region".

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