One year after China made its debut appearance at the Rim of the Pacific Excercise, the largest joint military exercise in the world, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee wants the country disinvited when ships from 20 of the world’s navies gather in the region in 2016.
McCain said the invite should be pulled because of China’s “bad behavior,” including its construction of artificial islands around islands for which several countries make competing claims.
“In the last number of years they had filled in 60 acres of land around these islands,” he told Bloomberg News. “In the last year they have filled in 600 acres and they are putting in a runway. I don’t think there is any doubt about their territorial ambitions.”
China lays claim to the Senkaku Islands – which it calls the Diaoyu Islands. Japan wrested them from China more than a century ago, but after World War II the U.S. maintained they belonged to Japan.
It’s not only China’s action that has McCain and others worried. In 2013, China unilaterally declared an air defense identification zone over a major portion of the East China Sea, in effect declaring a national defense interest in tracking, identifying and questioning any aircraft venturing into or passing through the airspace.
Now, with its build-up of man-made islands in the South China Sea, McCain believes China might declare a new air defense identification zone over that region.
“That would a de facto assertion that it is Chinese airspace. I don’t think there’s any doubt the Chinese are acting in an aggressive manner,” McCain told Bloomberg. He said the U.S. Pacific Command has been warnings about China