RIMPAC, a 'muscle show' exposing US' true face as a 'paper tiger'
Published: Jun 27, 2024 09:23 PM
International Navy ships assemble for a photo exercise off the coast of Hawaii during the Rim of Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) 2018, on July 26, 2018 in the Pacific Ocean. Photo: AFP

International Navy ships assemble for a photo exercise off the coast of Hawaii during the Rim of Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) 2018, on July 26, 2018 in the Pacific Ocean. Photo: AFP

The US-led 29th Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, the world's largest international maritime military drill, kicked off on Thursday in and around the Hawaiian Islands. One of the major focuses this year is the sinking exercise of the USS Tarawa, a 40,000-ton retired amphibious assault ship.

Analysts believe that the RIMPAC exercise is clearly aimed at China, as the only country deemed as "enemy" by the US that operates a 40,000-ton amphibious assault ship in the Asia-Pacific region is China. Some experts also suggest that the US and its allies may be preparing for the potential scenario of the mainland using such a ship to attack the Taiwan island.

The choice of the USS Tarawa as the sinking target reflects the concern of the US and its allies about the development and strength of China's maritime power, especially regarding the mainland's military deterrence on the Taiwan island. Ultimately, the US hopes to once again hype up the "China threat" rhetoric and intensify regional tensions through staging the RIMPAC exercise, in which America is the absolute protagonist.

The current RIMPAC exercise is more like an elaborately designed maritime show. Ensuring that every scene is shocking enough and looks impressive enough is the most critical task for the US and its allies. 

The US spends so many efforts staging such a big show simply because it hopes to prove its power. However, the USS Tarawa is an amphibious assault ship that served in the US from 1976 to 2009. Such an outdated ship cannot be compared with modern military equipment. At the same time, the US should not ignore the progress of China's naval capabilities in defense and counterattack. Therefore, it is completely futile for the US to attempt to deter China through this drill.

Moreover, the US has organized joint maritime exercises targeting China many times, but China has never been intimidated by these drills. For example, during the Valiant Shield 2024 exercise organized by the US in the Indo-Pacific region this month, China directly sent three Type 055 large destroyers to the South China Sea, demonstrating China's strength and determination to defend its territorial sovereignty. 

Hence, the US-led military exercises have exposed its essence as a "paper tiger." Apart from emboldening itself, the US-led military exercises may not have any other effect.

The US has increased pressure on China over the issues concerning the South China Sea and Taiwan Straits in order to maintain its global hegemony. However, the vast majority of participating countries are unwilling to actually confront China at the expense of their own national interests.

"The US targets China with the RIMPAC exercises, but most participating countries are solely cajoled by the US. The drill only represents the interests of the US. It is nothing but a show to display the weapons and equipment of the US military so as to facilitate the US' arms sales to its so-called partners and allies," a military expert told the Global Times on Thursday.

In fact, no matter how apparently thrilling the US-led military exercises look, it is impossible to shake China's determination in defending its interests. However, the most destructive effect of the RIMPAC exercise lies in its poisoning of the peaceful atmosphere in the Asia-Pacific region. This has once again revealed to the world who is the actual provocateur and the destroyer of peace that creates a vicious cycle of escalating tensions. If the US thinks that staging a "weapons display" would muddy the waters of the Pacific and disturb China's pace of development, it would undoubtedly have made a miscalculation.