US skips naval ceremony as China snubs Japan

April 05, 2014 - 3:30:57 am

HONOLULU: The US has decided not to send a warship to a naval ceremony in China after learning Japan was not invited, a defence official said yesterday.

The international fleet review is being held to mark the 65th anniversary of the Chinese navy and Washington had intended to take part in the event off the eastern coastal city of Qingdao later this month.

“Japan was not invited. So in solidarity, we decided not to participate,” said the senior US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But the chief of the US Navy, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, and the head of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Harry Harris, will go ahead and attend a symposium in Qingdao that coincides with the flotilla ceremony, the official said.

The sail-off of warships was “not a drill” or exercise and Washington’s move did not signal a major rupture with China, the official said. The Pentagon informed the Chinese of its decision about 10 days ago, the official said.

Japan appears to have been invited to the naval symposium, which involves top naval officers from more than 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.