01/26/2018, 12.55
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US invites China to its most important naval exercise

China took part in the drill in 2014 and 2016. The invitation comes despite tensions over the South China Sea, and the passage of a US military vessel.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The United States has invited China to participate in the most important naval exercise organised by the US, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said yesterday at a press briefing.

The invitation comes at a time of tensions between the two countries, due to the passage of an US anti-missile ship in the South China Sea.

Wu said that China sent a team to discuss initial arrangements with the United States, but did not elaborate.

RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) is billed as the world’s largest international maritime exercise. It is held every two years in Hawaii in June and July, and China has attended previously, in 2014 and 2016.

Pentagon officials have long complained that China has not been candid enough about its rapid military build-up, whereas Chinese officials have accused Washington of viewing their country in suspicious, “Cold War” terms.

China decried last week’s freedom of navigation operation by a US warship in the South China Sea as an infringement of its sovereignty, and sent one of its ships in response.

China claims most of the South China Sea, and has built islands and military installations on the Spratlys and Paracel islands.

Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei have their own claims in the area.

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