A Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. File picture: Liu Rui/Xinhua via AP

Washington — The Pentagon says it has disinvited China from a multinational military exercise to be held this summer in the Pacific.

A Pentagon statement on Wednesday said the withdrawal of the invitation for the Chinese navy to participate in the Pacific Rim drills is "an initial response" to what it called China's militarization of the South China Sea.

It cited what it called "strong evidence" that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems and electronic jammers to contested areas in the Spratly Island region of the South China Sea. It called on China to remove these systems.

The Pentagon also cited its objections to China's recent landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island.

China maintains that the South China Sea is its sovereign territory.