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Taiwan excluded from RIMPAC despite US Congress insistence

Biennial maritime exercise expected to focus on China deterrence

The USS Ronald Reagan at a previous iteration of RIMPAC. 

The USS Ronald Reagan at a previous iteration of RIMPAC.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As the 2022 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise fast approaches, Taiwan has notably not been invited despite calls from U.S. Congress to do so.

The world's largest biennial maritime exercise, hosted by the U.S. Navy, is scheduled to begin Wednesday (June 29) in waters near Hawaii and Southern California, Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported. The last RIMPAC exercise was held 2020 but with reduced capacity due to COVID-19.

Twenty-six nations will participate, including Japan, South Korea, Australia, and India. Tonga, a Pacific Island nation where China is gaining influence, has also been invited.

Judging from the list of participants, the exercise will likely focus on defending against Chinese expansion. However, Taiwan has been left out, possibly due to Washington’s desire to avoid confrontation with Beijing, per Yomiuri Shimbun.

This exclusion comes after U.S. Congress passed the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act in December, which included a provision that Taiwan would be invited to participate in future RIMPAC exercises.

This year’s exercise is expected to feature the latest U.S. weapons systems, such as unmanned surface vessels. It may also incorporate cyber and electronic warfare elements and joint military drills.

The Obama administration had invited China to participate in the maritime war games in 2014 and 2016 as part of Washington’s attempt to ensure Beijing complied with the international order. However, the U.S. Navy believed it could not conduct military exercises that allowed China to learn about the capabilities of the participating navies.

It was ultimately decided that China could only join in on disaster response drills. Under the Trump administration, China’s invitation was canceled due to its expansion in the South China Sea.