“We have strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems, and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea,” Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
He added that “China’s landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island has also raised tensions.”
It marks the first time that China has been disinvited from RimPac, Commander Logan said.
Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea islands — which have been claimed variously by China, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines — has been for years a source of tension.
During his campaign, Mr. Trump labeled President Barack Obama as weak in defending international waters in the South China Sea, where Beijing has started a sharp military buildup to reclaim land, install runways and haul equipment onto reefs and shoals it claims as its own. Several of Mr. Trump’s aides called for China to be denied access to the artificial islands.