Taiwan could first attend RIMPAC maritime exercise as observer

Full participation in military drills at RIMPAC might occur in 2022

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File photo of RIMPAC exercises (screenshot from RimofthePacific Facebook page) 

File photo of RIMPAC exercises (screenshot from RimofthePacific Facebook page) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s military might be invited to attend the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) maritime exercises in August in the capacity of an observer, an expert said Saturday (June 27).

In the United States, the Senate Armed Services Committee proposed an invitation to Taiwan in its version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) presented on Tuesday (June 23).

The 27th edition of RIMPAC is scheduled for late August, with 20 countries expected to participate, but not China, CNA reported. If Taiwan were invited, it would be the first time the island’s Navy would be allowed to take part in such a large-scale U.S.-led event.

Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) of the Institute of National Defense and Security Research (INDSR) said several branches of both countries’ armed forces already cooperated closely, CNA reported. As China attended RIMPAC in 2014 and 2016, but had not been invited to this year’s edition, Taiwan’s presence was only a matter of time, he said.

At first, it was more likely for Taiwan’s military and for think tank experts to be invited in the capacity of observers before the troops were actually asked to join in the drills themselves, Su told CNA. Other academics also mentioned 2022 as the possible first occasion for Taiwan’s military to share its skills at RIMPAC with about 20 other nations.