The carrier’s operation in the disputed basin coincides with a period of high tensions between China and the United States and their Western allies. In recent days, Chinese diplomacy has been highly critical of the declarations made by the NATO leaders’ summit and the G7 summit.

Chinese authorities, which recognize nearly the entirety of the South China Sea as their territory, regularly protest US naval operations, claiming that they threaten peace and stability in the region.

“In the South China Sea, the strike group conducts maritime security operations, including cruising with fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, naval strike exercises and coordinated strategic exercises,” the US Navy announced.

“Aircraft carrier operations in the South China Sea are part of the US Navy’s routine presence in the Indo-Pacific,” it said. It was also added that the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was escorted by the cruiser USS Shiloh and the destroyer USS Halsey.

The South China Sea is rich in natural resources and is important for international trade. For several years, it was also one of the hottest spots in East Asia.

China recognizes almost all of the waters as its territory, and controlling it is now one of Beijing’s main foreign policy goals. Chinese claims contrast with claims by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan for specific areas of the sea.