Thu, Aug 20, 2015 - Page 3 News List

US defense boss sticks to China’s RIMPAC invite

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has turned down an appeal from US Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain to disinvite China from next year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) military exercises in Hawaii.

Carter said in a letter to McCain that the exercises help “demonstrate US leadership and determination to all maritime powers in the region, including China.”

The US House of Representatives in May added an amendment to a bill authorizing the US military budget for next year stipulating that if the US Department of Defense invited China to participate in RIMPAC, a similar invitation had to be extended to Taiwan.

That bill is now being considered by a conference committee before being sent to US President Barack Obama for his signature.

Capitol Hill insiders say that it is unlikely the amendment to include Taiwan in the drills will survive. Nevertheless, in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2016 being considered by the committee, clause 1257 requires the defense department to invite Taiwan to RIMPAC if China is invited.

RIMPAC is the largest international maritime warfare exercise in the world and the People’s Liberation Army Navy took part for the first time last summer.

The Ministry of National Defense in Taipei has said that it would welcome such an invitation.

McCain and US Senator Jack Reed, a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote to Carter earlier this year saying they had learned the US Pacific Fleet had invited China to next year’s RIMPAC.

“We think this decision is misguided,” they said.

“Given the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China’s] provocative actions in the East and South China seas, our government should be considering policy options that impose costs on China’s disruptive behavior, not reward it,” they said.

In his reply — leaked to the “Breaking Defense” Web site — Carter said that China was “engaging in some conduct that is causing us to respond and to draw closer to the many allies and partners that share our concern.”

However, he refused to disinvite China because RIMPAC allows participants “to exercise key operational practices and procedures that are essential to ensuring that tactical misunderstandings do not escalate into crisis,” he said.

“I am closely monitoring events in the South China Sea and may modify our defense engagement decisions based on evolving circumstances,” he said.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top