US Pacific military exercises begin in show of strength to counter growing Chinese capabilities

US Pacific military exercises begin in show of strength to counter growing Chinese capabilities

The biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) maritime warfare exercise will commence in Hawaii today. This year will be the

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Photo: Reuters

The biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) maritime warfare exercise will commence in Hawaii today.

This year will be the 26th edition of the exercise in which 26 countries, 47 ships, more than 200 aircraft and some 25,000 personnel participate. Its official purpose is to enhance cooperation and interoperability among “Pacific” countries­—a loose description considering Israel’s participation this year—and allows participants to gauge others’ maritime capabilities.

Notable about this year’s exercise is the absence of China, which has participated in the past two RIMPAC’s. Indeed, China’s invitation was rescinded by the US, citing its continued militarisation of the South China Sea.

However, on a practical level excluding China could be a poor one. While participation in RIMPAC is not nearly important enough for Beijing to alter its actions in the South China Sea, Chinese expulsion could deny the US and its Pacific partners, including Japan, a chance to measure China’s growing naval prowess. Considering China will likely spy on the event anyway, Washington could be doing Beijing a favour.

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