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Other than disinviting China from an upcoming Pacific naval exercise, there have been none.

The Pentagon has pulled its invitation for China to join maritime exercises in the Pacific because of Beijing's "continued militarization" of the South China Sea, an official said Wednesday, in the latest sign of US-China strains. Logan called on China to remove its military systems from island bases in the Spratly islands and to "reverse course on the militarization of disputed South China Sea features".

"While China has maintained that the construction of the islands is to ensure safety at sea, navigation assistance, search and rescue, fisheries protection and other non-military functions, the placement of these weapon systems is only for military use", Logan said, adding that the landing of a Chinese bomber on Woody Island had only exacerbated strains.

China has always been accused of building artificial land masses in that region, which is also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia, and placing military assets there. It included some 25,000 troops, 45 ships, five submarines and more than 200 aircraft, according to Navy information published at the time.

"China is only building civilian and some necessary defense facilities on our own islands".

China's precise intentions remain unclear and Chinese experts say much will depend on whether Beijing feels threatened by regional security trends, particularly USA activity such as its so-called "freedom of navigation patrols".

ISI analysts believe the satellite images provide further evidence that China is increasingly "militarizing" its islands in the South China Sea, ramping up tensions in the region that might undermine its strategic stability. US officials have expressed concerns for years that China's militarization of the islands could threaten trade in the region and heighten tensions with the other nations who claim land in the area. "We didn't have evidence at the time he would continue the militarization", he said.

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China's foreign minister criticized the U.S. decision, describing it as "unconstructive". The annual exercise is hosted by the United States and takes place around Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet is headquartered.

An invitation to the exercise, scheduled to start in June, carries political clout, and the disinvitation is likely to heighten U.S. Participation in RIMPAC is a sign of legitimacy in the eyes of the worldwide community.

Fanell said the notion that engaging the Chinese in military exchanges will produce a moderation in China's policies was "akin to superstition". "Both China, the USA are big countries, and we are well positioned to have greater cooperation at sea".

Despite the looming threat, the worldwide community - including India, Japan, the USA and Australia - has failed to achieve a united front against China's island-building spree, Choong said. Trump on Tuesday said he suspected that the North's recent talk of scrapping the summit could reflect influence from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who recently met with Kim.

Nor has China reduced pressure on Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, or Malaysia over fishing and mineral rights in the sea.

Countries surrounding the South China Sea could eventually find themselves forced to accept Chinese hegemony in the region.


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