The world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise has just begun, focusing on China’s potential to invade Taiwan in 2027. Taiwan was not invited, but it can learn a lot from the exercise and join in another way, according to experts. 

The multinational maritime exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 was recently launched in Hawaii, United States. The US-led annual exercise assembles 26 countries, 25,000 people, and top global navies like Japan, India, and South Korea. 

However, once expected to be on the list of invitations, Taiwan could not join due to the influence of the international situation. Major Japan news outlet Yomiuri Shimbun said the U.S. decided to invite Taiwan to participate in future RIMPAC in its 2022 National Defense Authorization Act last December. The exclusion comes after this decision, possibly to avoid confrontation with China.

Admiral Sam Paparo, Commander of the US Pacific Fleet, said that this military exercise was not to threaten China. However, the focus is on honing the essential skills and techniques for possible future conflicts. 

Moreover, he bluntly stated that the exercise was designed specifically for any situation in the Taiwan Strait in 2027. This includes amphibious operations and long-range strikes to boost the US-led alliance’s proficiency in dealing with relevant problems, whatever it means. 

Lin Yingyou is a researcher at the Association of Strategic Foresight.

In an interview with Chinese language media Da Ji Yuan 大纪元, he said that for now, it would be hard for Taiwan to join in similar joint military exercises. But it can go the other way around. One breakthrough alternative is for Taiwan to participate in video wargames, and the U.S. could connect to Taiwan while conducting war games in the region. This way, it can achieve the same effect and cause less controversy than an actual cooperative exercise.

Lin Yingyou said that the eventual target of the Pacific Rim military exercise is China. Beijing is the consensus of most U.S. allies, especially after the Ukraine-Russia War.

What can Taiwan learn from the exercise?

Lin Yingyou repeats that besides live ammunition exercises, war games are essential, as it helps understand the tactical scenarios of various countries. This is a breakthrough direction that Taiwan can follow, and it can effectively expand the maritime patrol organization and the effectiveness of marine law enforcement.

For example, China is deploying coast guard ships in the name of civilian vessels, but in essence, it is a way to expand its naval forces and invade the waters of various countries. Perhaps Taiwan can also use its maritime law enforcement agency (called Taiwan Coast Guard) to cooperate with other countries. This would cause fewer disputes but still achieve the effect of essentially defending its sovereignty at sea. 

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