US withdraws China invite to joint military drills

Chinese marines participated in the 2016 RimPac drills in Hawaii

China has criticized the US decision to disinvite it from the RimPac drills it had participated in twice before. The Pentagon says China’s “militarization” of the South China Sea is behind its decision.

A statement on the Chinese Defense Ministry’s website on Thursday dismissed the Pentagon’s decision to withdraw its invitation to join the Rim of the Pacific – or RimPac – naval drills as “not constructive.”

Beijing pointed out that the decision would not break China’s “will play a role in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”

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“Closing the door to communication at any time is not conducive towards promoting mutual trustand communication between the Chinese and US militaries,” it added.

The Rim of the Pacific exercise, known as RimPac is seen as the world’s largest international maritime exercise. It is held every other year in the US state of Hawaii in June and July. China has attended twice, in 2014 and 2016.

Dispute over South China Sea

The Pentagon said in a statement on Wednesday that its decision was “an initial response” to what it called China’s militarization of the South China Sea.

Over the weekend the Chinese air force landed bombers in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise, triggering concern from Vietnam and the Philippines.

China has laid claim to most of the islands in the South China Sea, sparking concern in the region. Beijing insists that building up defense facilities is to designed to protect China’s sovereignty.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia also claim some of the islands in the South China Sea.

The United States has warships in disputed areas of the South China Sea to challenge China’s ambitions there. – Reuters

Map of the South China Sea: Chinese claims and disputed islands


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