The White House said this month it had raised concerns with China about its latest militarisation after CNBC reported anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems had been installed on Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross.
But freedom of navigation naval patrols, which are used by the United States to challenge Chinese claims to the islands, continued sparingly.
"China is only building civilian and some necessary defense facilities on our own islands".
Almost a third of global trade passes through the South China Sea and Beijing has bigger commercial and military ambitions for this strategic sea area, said William Choong, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea but Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims. China's expulsion from the drills was described as an "initial response", suggesting that there might be more to come.
Since then, China has significantly bolstered its military presence in the disputed South China Sea, despite a ruling by an global arbitration tribunal in the summer of 2016 discrediting Beijing's extensive claims to the region. It has built up islands and military installations across the region.
ISI analysts believe the satellite images provide further evidence that China is increasingly "militarizing" its islands in the South China Sea, ramping up tensions in the region that might undermine its strategic stability. The move is said to be in response to Beijing's recent escalation of the militarization of islands in the South China Sea, which has been well-documented by global reports. The biannual exercise is organized by U.S. Pacific Command and involves naval forces from multiple Asian countries. Countries surrounding the South China Sea could eventually find themselves forced to accept Chinese hegemony in the region. "The PLA will be able to use these bases to challenge US presence in the region, and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants".
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RIMPAC enabled the armed forces of the world's two largest economies to directly engage with each other. Beijing began participating in the exercise in 2014. Plans for this year's 26th RIMPAC were finalized last month with over 1,000 personnel from 27 nations set to participate, including debut appearances from Brazil, Israel, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
"I will say I'm a little disappointed because when Kim Jong Un had the meeting with President Xi in China, the second meeting - the first meeting we knew about - the second meeting - I think there was a little change in attitude from Kim Jong Un", Trump said Tuesday.
"China should never, ever have been invited to RIMPAC".
The U.S. had included China the past two years in the large-scale exercise known as Rim of the Pacific, or RimPac, as part of an effort during the Obama administration to stabilize military relations with Beijing, which have been disrupted many times by China's objections to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
"I also want to stress that it is the USA who proposed to enhance mil-to-mil exchanges between the two countries in the first place".
"This decision by the United States is not constructive".