Are Things About To Get Awkward At Major Pacific Military Exercise?

A Taiwan navy Kidd-class destoryer launches a SM-2 surface to air missile during a lifefire drill at sea near the east coast of Taiwan on Sept. 26. Could Taiwanese ships participate along side Chinese ships at RIMPAC 2014? (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)

The Taiwanese Kidd-class destroyer MAKUNG (1805, ex-USS CHANDLER DDG 996) launches an SM-2 surface-to-air missile during a live fire exercise on Sept. 26. Could Taiwanese ships participate alongside Chinese ships at RIMPAC 2014? (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)

Could war ships from China and Taiwan soon simultaneously participate in a major Pacific military exercise? If one US senator has his way, it might happen.

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., has introduced an amendment to the upper chamber’s version of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that, if approved, would put the entire Senate on record as supporting Taiwan’s participation in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in 2014.

Coats’ measure explicitly states Taiwan’s participation would enhance its navy’s humanitarian assistance and disaster relief expertise. To that end, the amendment points to “earthquakes and typhoons that frequently strike its own homeland.” Given China’s, well, complicated relationship with and policy toward Taiwan, Beijing likely will be, shall we say, skeptical…

The amendment would make this statement the official opinion of the full United States Senate: “The United States welcomes the opportunity to work with Taiwan in creating a more interactive naval relationship between our two countries as it is in best security interests of both countries.”

Again, one can sense China’s skepticism already.

And speaking of China, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in March announced the PLA Navy would be sending a ship to participate in RIMPAC 2014.

Are things about to get awkward on the high seas? Perhaps.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett