US joins Japan, India in show of force in South China Sea

US joins Japan, India in show of force in South China Sea
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The U.S. Navy said Thursday that it joined with warships from India, Japan and the Philippines in a show of force in the South China Sea.

While the U.S. frequently conducts exercises in the contested region, this multilateral display is a new challenge for China amid heightened rhetoric from President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE on trade.

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“Our team was really excited to take part in this multi-lateral event,” Cmdr. Andrew J. Klug, commanding officer of the USS William P. Lawrence, said in a statement. “Professional engagements with our allies, partners and friends in the region are opportunities to build upon our existing, strong relationships, as well as learn from each other.”

The week of joint exercises ended on Wednesday.

Two U.S. warships also sailed near islands claimed by China earlier this week.

China, which has ramped up its territorial claims in the sea and built military installations and islands to expand its authority, has consistently condemned U.S. presence in the region.

“China urges the United States to stop such provocative actions,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said of the warship exercises earlier this week.

Trump threatened earlier this week to increase tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods if negotiators do not reach a deal with the U.S., upping pressure on Chinese negotiators.