Pentagon uninvites China from maritime military exercise

US Excludes China From Military Drill Over South China Sea Actions

The United States has withdrawn its invitation for China to take part in a major naval exercise on Wednesday, citing the continued militarization of the South China Sea, a Pentagon spokesperson said Wednesday.

"We have called on China to remove the military systems immediately and to reverse course on the militarization of disputed South China Sea features", the statement added.

Held every two years in Hawaii, the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises involved more than 20 countries including India, Japan, the United Kingdom and - for the past two events - China.

The Pentagon on Wednesday said that China will not be invited to the upcoming Pacific military exercise due to its continued militarization of the South China Sea.

China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, who was visiting Washington, told reporters at the State Department that "we hope the USA will change such a negative mindset". 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.

Participating in the last RIMPAC in 2016 were 45 ships, 200 aircraft and more than 25,000 people from 26 nations, the defense official told CNN.

"Being invited or not can not change China's will to play a role in protecting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, and can not shake China's firm determination to defend its sovereignty and security interests".

RIMPAC was first held in 1971 and has been described as "the world's largest worldwide maritime exercise" by the U.S. Navy.

Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, a Defense Department spokesman, described disinviting China's navy from participating in the biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise as a first step in protesting China's actions in the Spratly Islands. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will be in attendance and may use the podium at Shangri-La to offer a strong rebuke of Chinese activity in the South China Sea, where the U.S. continues to privilege freedom of navigation for military and civilian vessels alike.

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If the US military increases its activities in the South China Sea, then our side will need to further strengthen its military deployments there.

An invitation to the exercise, scheduled to start in June, carries political clout, and the disinvitation is likely to heighten U.S.

China says it has every right to build what it calls necessary defensive facilities on its own territory.

For instance, we may see the United States not only increase its already considerable presence in the South China Sea, but engage in bilateral exercises with regional partners and allies more frequently.

The Spratly archipelago is disputed from six countries: Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei.

Logan added that Xi had broken a promise he made to the global community that China would not militarize the Spratly Islands. He said, "our goal remains to convince China that its best future comes from peaceful cooperation, meaningful participation in the current rules-based worldwide order, and honoring its global commitments".

Chinese officials said the announcement was "a very unconstructive move", and that they hope the USA will change its "negative mindset".

China's navy participated in a limited role in the 2014 and 2016 versions of the exercise.

China's Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi said the USA decision to exclude it from Rimpac was "very non-constructive".

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