Pentagon pulls China’s invite to Pacific naval exercises

WASHINGTON The Pentagon has pulled its invitation for China to join maritime exercises in the Pacific because of Beijing's "continued militarisation" of the South China Sea, an official said on Wednesday.

Personnel from more than two dozen countries train together and work on seamanship across the vast region for the biennial Rim of the Pacific (Rimpac) exercise organised by the US Navy.

But the US now says China's behaviour in the South China Sea runs counter to the spirit of the drills.

"China's continued militarisation of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilise the region," Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Logan said.

"We have disinvited the PLA Navy from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercise. China's behaviour is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the Rimpac exercise."

The US decision to exclude it from Rimpac was "very non-constructive", said China's Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi . "It's also a decision taken lightly and is unhelpful to mutual understanding between China and the US." - AFP