The Buzz

Why America Should Disinvite China to RIMPAC 2018

These repeated RIMPAC invitations show the US as supplicants – valuing the relationship more than does China. Not to mention the demoralizing effect on American allies.

In 2016, Japanese Navy officers were refused entry onto Chinese ships at Pearl Harbor – contrary to both exercise rules and good manners. Instead of raising merry hell and showing the Chinese Navy the door, the US hushed things up. The Japanese noticed.

Expect Beijing to demand equal billing as a RIMPAC co-sponsor before long. And eventually set up its own rival RIMPAC elsewhere.

All these concerns are well known, but China is still invited. Curiously, nobody knows who makes the decision to invite them.

Somebody in the Trump Administration or Department of Defense must go on record and reveal evidence proving that China’s participation in RIMPAC 2014 and 2016 improved Chinese behavior.

And then explain how inviting the PLA to RIMPAC 2018 is going to produce better results.

That’s a tough case to make, so expect to hear that we need China’s help with North Korea – even though Beijing insists it has no influence over Pyongyang.

Withdrawing the invitation to RIMPAC 2018 is easy. Just declare the timing isn’t right or that the matter is being studied. That’s how China does it. Or just invite Taiwan – a democratic ally that actually deserves to come.

Doing something dumb once is understandable. Doing the same thing twice is perplexing. Do it a third time and one recalls a US Marine infantry officer’s recent comment: ‘Sir, I think we want to lose wars.’

This first appeared in AsiaTimes here

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