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US sends carrier through disputed South China Sea amid tensions with Beijing
The U.S. military sailed an aircraft carrier through the South China Sea on Tuesday in a show of force against Chinese aggression, The Associated Press reported.
The Navy flew a group of Philippine generals, officials and journalists to the USS Ronald Reagan to watch F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets land and take off by catapult while the ship was en route to Manila for a port visit.
Armed cruisers were in the vicinity to keep watch a few miles from the carrier.
"The motto of this carrier is peace through strength," Rear Adm. Karl Thomas told journalists.
Asked what message the carrier's presence was sending amid new tensions with China, Thomas replied that U.S. military presence helps provide security and stability that foster diplomatic talks between quarreling China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.
"We just think that folks should follow the international law and our presence allows us to provide that security and stability in the background for these discussions to take place," Thomas said.
The six Southeast Asian countries have been in continuous territorial conflicts over the water in the South China Sea, a major commerce waterway. China has recently caused tensions over turning disputed reefs in the Spratly chain into islands and militarizing the landform.