29 Jun 2018

China excluded from RIMPAC naval exercise

6:24 pm on 29 June 2018

China has been excluded from the world's largest maritime exercise in Hawaii due to what the US calls its militarisation of the South China Sea.

Pearl Harbour in Hawaii where RIMPAC is based.

Pearl Harbour in Hawaii where RIMPAC is based. Photo: AFP / file

The US hosted naval exercise called Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, has begun in Pearl Harbour with 25 or more countries involved, including New Zealand, Australia and Tonga.

The exercise will display regional maritime capabilities including security operations and disaster relief.

RIMPAC leader, Vice Admiral John Alexander, said China is now missing out on building maritime relationships with the US and other Pacific Rim countries.

"They were invited and they have been participants in all the planning up until this point but the militarisation of the South China Sea is inconsistent with the principals and purposes of RIMPAC," said the Vice Admiral.

"RIMPAC is about inclusivity. It's about following international rules and norms and so the civilian senior leadership felt that militarization is against the principals of RIMPAC and so they were disinvited."

Beginning in 1971, RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series and this year there are 50 surface vessels and 25,000 personnel involved according to Mr Alexander.

The US White House has warned Beijing recently of consequences for installing missile systems in outposts in the hotly contested Spratly Islands, located to the east of Vietnam and south of the Philippines.