RIMPAC: Navies Adjust to New Arrival
Political Challenges Arise With China’s Participation in U.S.-led Rimpac Exercises
In Pacific Drills, Navies Adjust to New Arrival: China
By JEREMY PAGE
BEIJING—An unusual experiment in military diplomacy is under way in the waters off Hawaii, as the U.S. incorporates China into the world’s biggest naval drills for the first time.
The U.S.-led Rimpac drills—involving 22 nations this year—are always a huge logistical task. But with China joining, even as it tries to enforce maritime claims in Asia, organizers faced additional political and legal challenges.
Among them: Would China allow its ships to be under Japanese command? Would the U.S. allow China to stage a commando raid on a ship? And could Chinese ships legally fire on an inflatable red target known as a “killer tomato”?
These and other delicate questions were thrashed out during months of talks between U.S. military officials, Chinese officers, U.S. allies and Pentagon lawyers that reflected the complex dynamics of U.S.-China relations.
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