The United States on May 23, 2018 uninvited China from one of the world's largest international maritime warfare exercises.
An official statement from Pentagon read that “China's behaviour is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RIMPAC exercise and so, it has disinvited the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise.”
The exercise, held in every two years in Hawaii, involves more than 20 countries from across the world including India, Australia, Japan and the UK.
The decision to withdraw the invitation was made mainly due to China’s continued militarisation of the South China Sea, which was further boosted by Beijing's recent deployment of missile systems and the first landing of a Chinese bomber on an island in the South China Sea.
Over the weekend China’s air force landed bombers on disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise in the region, triggering concern from Vietnam and the Philippines.
China has also reportedly deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers on disputed islands.
Where does it take US and China’s relations?
• On May 20, 2018, it was confirmed that both US and China had agreed to back off from imposing tariffs on each other. The move followed the visit of Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He to the United States.
• The two sides had reached a consensus and agreed not to fight a trade war by increasing tariffs on each other. The small truce followed months of increasing tensions that had set the markets on edge over fears of a damaging trade war.
• Despite the concern and tension between the two nations, US President Donald Trump had praised China in recent months for its help in putting pressure on North Korea.k
• However, with the current, the relationship between the two nations looks to be veering toward increasingly intense competition.
• The United States has dispatched warships to disputed areas of the South China Sea in a bid to challenge China’s extensive sovereignty claims in the territory, which is subject to various claims by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.
Last week, China said that it landed long-range bombers for the first time on an island in the South China Sea. The move is the latest in a series of maneuvers that puts China at odds with its neighbours in the region and the US.
The bombers were deployed on Woody Island, an artificial land mass built by the Chinese government in the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan and China.
The People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) claimed the mission was a part of China's aim to achieve a broader regional reach, quicker mobilization and greater strike capabilities.
• RIMPAC is the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise.
• It is hosted and administered by the United States Navy's Pacific Fleet, headquartered at Pearl Harbor, in collaboration with the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard and Hawaii National Guard forces under the control of the Governor of Hawaii.
• The US invites military forces from the Pacific Rim and beyond to participate.
• The first RIMPAC, held in 1971, involved forces from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US). Australia, Canada and the US have participated in every RIMPAC since then.
• India participated in RIMPAC 2016, which had witnessed participation from around 45 ships, 200 aircraft and more than 25,000 people from 26 nations across the world.
• China was also invited to RIMPAC 2016 despite the tension in the South China Sea. China had sent five vessels to take part in the exercises. It was only the second time that China had taken part in the exercises.
• The Obama administration had allowed China to participate in the 2016 RIMPAC exercises after a promise from Chinese President Xi Jinping that the artificial islands in the South China Sea would not be militarised.