China should be out of the upcoming 2016 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) military exercise with majority of events to be held off the waters of Hawaii. China’s participation to RIMPAC 2016 was addressed by Hawaii Representative Mark Takai during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the 2017 defense budget last March.
“In response to recent provocative actions taken by China in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), I told the Secretary [of Defense Ash Carter] and Chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford Jr.] that I would follow through with an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to prohibit their participation if the Department of Defense (DoD) does not revoke their invitation themselves,” Takai said.
Takai noted that the stated goal of RIMPAC is a “unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.”
“Yet, China has continually undermined America’s relationships in the Asia-Pacific and threatened the freedom of navigation that serves as the engine of our global economy,” Takai said. “Participation in a joint exercise of this magnitude should be reserved for those that share the common interests and goals of the U.S. and our international partners, not those that seek to undermine them.”
The position of Takai is similar to position of Senate Armed Services Committee chair Senator John McCain and ranking member Senator Jack Reed. “Given China’s behavior in the past year alone, including its disregard for the interests of our allies, international law, and established norms, we do not believe Beijing should have been invited to this prestigious U.S.-led military exercise in 2016,” US Senators said early 2015.
However, US government has not revoked its invitation to China to participate in this year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise because the US government is still hoping China may still participate in a “system of cooperative nations,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said April 15 aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74).
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