Carter to visit aircraft carrier on South China Sea

Defense Secretary Ash Carter is planning a visit to a U.S. aircraft carrier transiting the South China Sea on Friday amid escalating tensions over China’s territorial claims, Reuters reports.

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Carter has been in the Philippines and announced earlier Thursday that the two countries have been doing joint patrols in the disputed South China Sea since March.

China and neighboring nations have been in a power struggle over the sea, an important trade route, as China builds artificial islands. 

“Countries across the Asia-Pacific are voicing concern with China's land reclamation, which stands out in size and scope, as well as its militarization in the South China Sea," Carter said at a press conference Thursday.

The Defense chief's visit will likely spark anger from China, which has accused the U.S. of “sabotaging peace and stability” in the region.

Carter made a similar visit to another aircraft carrier in November as it crossed the South China Sea.