RIM-PAC Will Showcase Maritime Might, China Launching Its Third Aircraft Carrier

From June 29 to August 4, India will send a stealth frigate and a P8I anti-submarine warfare reconnaissance aircraft to the 26-nation Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in the contested Indo-Pacific, which will include manoeuvres around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

The US Indo-Pacific Command is hosting the exercise, which will feature 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine land forces, roughly 170 aircraft, and 25000 personnel from the QUAD states, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

The global drill comes as China prepares to launch its third aircraft carrier (Type 003) later this month, despite the fact that the Ukraine conflict has put a lengthy shadow over Beijing’s goal of absorbing Taiwan through force. Last month, the PLA Navy demonstrated 300 aircraft landing and taking off from the first aircraft carrier Liaoning off the coast of Okinawa as part of a training exercise.

Sensing a threat to the region, Japan has opted to make important security decisions, with Russia and China now regularly conducting war games in the Sea of Japan.

While Japan is set to undergo a strategic review of its pacifist posture later this year, the country is sending its largest warship to RIMPAC, and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (the first Japanese Prime Minister to do so) is expected to attend the NATO summit later this month in Spain.

The protracted Ukraine conflict, as well as Chinese belligerence in the Indo-Pacific, have reawakened pacifist countries such as Japan to mounting national security concerns. While India monitors the economic and military costs of the Ukraine conflict, Japan is anticipated to make its most advanced military technologies available to countries like India following the strategic review. Tokyo has already raised its defence spending, knowing that any attack on Taiwan by China will compel Tokyo to respond.

The Xi Jinping administration has used its military and economic clout to form defence pacts with far-flung Pacific islands like Soloman, Kiribati, and Vanuatu Islands in the Oceania region, heightening the threat perception in the Indo-Pacific.

While the Chinese Communists’ expectations for the reception to Chinese overtures made during Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s ten-day journey to Oceania were not met, the QUAD partners were alarmed. China’s stated military goal in seeking military sites in Oceania is to get through the first island chain of the South China Sea and move into the far Pacific, posing security challenges for the US Pacific Command and threatening Australia’s regional influence.

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