The United States has revoked an invitation to China to the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC). The world’s largest joint naval exercise is hosted by the U.S. and held every two years.
The June-August 2018 exercises would have been the third consecutive time The People’s Liberation Army Navy would have attended the exercises.
“The United States is committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific. China’s continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serve to raise tensions and destabilize the region,” U.S. Department of Defense Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan said in a press release.
China’s foreign minister says the U.S. withdrawal of an invitation for China to participate in a multinational naval exercise is “very non-constructive.”
Wang Yi says the decision “is unhelpful to mutual understanding” between the two powers, and is urging the U.S. to change its “negative mindset.”
Wang describes China’s deployments as necessary defense of its sovereign territory. He likens China defense facilities to the U.S. military presence in Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.
Wang was speaking at a joint news conference Wednesday after talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.
The RIMPAC exercise is about enhancing security around the Pacific Rim-based on rules set by the U.S. and its allies after World War II. RIMPAC started in 1971 and was an annual event until 1974 when it went to being held every two years because of the event’s scale. There are around 27 countries slated to participate in RIMPAC 2018, according to the U.S. Navy.