The Chinese Foreign Minister on Wednesday blasted the U.S. for excluding China from a multinational military exercise to be held in June, noting that the decision was “imprudent and unconstructive.”
“Such a decision will not help to enhance mutual understanding and trust between the U.S. and China, which are both world powers. The two nations can definitely cooperate regarding maritime security,” said Wang Yi, State Councilor and Chinese Foreign Minister, at a press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after their meeting in Washington, D.C.
Wang’s remarks come after the U.S. withdrew an invitation to China to join the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercises. According to CNN, the decision was made by U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis in coordination with the White House, which comes just days after China’s Air Force landed their advanced H-6K strategic bomber on an island in the South China Sea for the first time.
This would have marked China’s third consecutive participation in the drill, as the country had already accepted the invitation from the U.S. in January.
Blowing hot and cold, U.S. accusations of China “militarizing the South China Sea” have irritated the country, with Wang noting that it’s China’s legitimate right to construct its own islands.
“The U.S. has built military facilities in Hawaii and Guam. Compared to the U.S., China’s military deployment is to a much lesser scale, thus there is no need to hype up [China’s South China Sea movements],” Wang added.
Due to the Obama Administration’s efforts to stabilize Sino-U.S. military ties, China had already been included in the Rim of the Pacific naval exercises twice, in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
According to experts, China’s former participation in the naval exercises was a milestone for Sino-U.S, relations, as the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year 2000 prohibits advanced combined-arms and joint combat operations between the two nations, in fear that such cooperation may create a national security risk due to inappropriate exposure.
In 2016, China sent five vessels and over 1,000 personnel to join the drill.