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The 29th annual Rim of the Pacific exercise, also known as RIMPAC, kicked off in Hawaii on June 27 and will run through Aug. 1. “This year, 29 nations, 40 surface ships, three submarines, 14 national land forces and over 150 aircraft and more than 25,000 personnel are scheduled to participate,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder reported yesterday. “The theme of RIMPAC 2024 is ‘Partners: Integrated and Prepared,’” he said “This year’s iteration features a wide range of integrated capabilities, from disaster relief to maritime security operations, and from sea control to complex, all-domain warfighting, all to prepare multinational partners towards operating collaboratively to enhance our collective capabilities towards defending a free and open Indo-Pacific.” Not mentioned by Ryder, but highlighted in press reporting, is that U.S. participation includes the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and that the exercise features the planned sinking of an old U.S. Navy assault ship, the ex-USS Tarawa, which was decommissioned in 2009.

China is taking a dim view of the exercise; it has been excluded since 2016. “Washington has sought to use this year’s Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, naval exercises, to make the U.S. club look as large as possible. The purpose of this large-scale muscle flexing is to give a veneer of legitimacy to the United States’ military posturing in the Asia-Pacific region,” China Daily said in an editorial published on the PLA website. “Every nation in the world that has interests in the Pacific and will adhere to the same values is more than welcome to participate,” it quotes a RIMPAC deputy commander as having said.

“Although that seems to make the naval exercise an open family, the family law is clear-cut—adherence to U.S. ‘values,’” China Daily continues. “Even if a nation has interests in the Pacific, if it is deemed to be unwilling to obey the ‘law’ laid down by the U.S. as the head of the family, it is to be cut adrift from the other family members.”

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