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World's largest naval exercise sparks more friction between US and China

World's largest naval exercise sparks more friction between US and ChinaThe world’s largest naval exercise begins off the coast of Hawaii on Monday as diplomatic tensions escalate between the US and its allies and China over Beijing’s territorial ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region. Several countries participating in the joint exercises, billed by the US navy as strengthening alliances to “ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific” have raised concerns about China’s attempts to assert its control over critical trade routes and waterways. They include Australia, Japan, the Philippines and India. The coronavirus pandemic has forced the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) event, hosted by the US Pacific Fleet, to scale down from 25 to 11 nations, about 20 ships and 5,300 personnel, and its drills, which will now only be conducted at sea, have been whittled down from the usual five weeks to two. However, the exercises have riled Beijing, which was not invited to participate, despite taking part in 2014 and 2016. China was disinvited in 2018 by the Trump administration which accused it of militarising disputed areas of the South China Sea.




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