Asia Minute: US and South Korean military exercises go beyond RIMPAC
The Rim of the Pacific naval exercises are underway in waters around Hawaiʻi, and will continue through early August. More than two dozen countries are taking part — but for one of them, this year is different.
This year, South Korea is sending more forces to RIMPAC than it has since it first joined the exercises in 1990.
A South Korean amphibious assault ship has already been at Pearl Harbor for three weeks.
Then there are two destroyers, a submarine, four SEAL teams, helicopters, other hardware and about a thousand military personnel.
China has taken notice.
The state-run Global Times said South Korea’s RIMPAC contingent sends “a dangerous signal that the Yoon Suk-yeol administration is deviating from a neutral line amid China-U.S. competition and losing diplomatic autonomy to serve the U.S.’s Asia-Pacific strategy.”
South Korean President Yoon campaigned on a promise to deepen the alliance with the United States.
In May, President Biden traveled to Seoul and the two leaders agreed to consider expanding joint military exercises.
While RIMPAC is going on in waters around Hawaiʻi and off the coast of California, the two countries are also conducting a separate military exercise in the skies over South Korea.
F-35 stealth fighters from both countries will be taking part in the drills through Thursday.
CNN quotes a South Korean government spokesman as saying it’s the first time stealth fighters from the U.S. and South Korea have flown together.