U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Friday he would visit a U.S. aircraft carrier transiting the disputed South China Sea, a move bound to anger China, which has been increasingly asserting its territorial claims.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the waters, through which about $5 trillion intrade is shipped every year.
Carter, speaking at the close of joint U.S.-Philippines "Balikatan" military exercises in Manila, said he would visit the USS John C. Stennis after visiting another carrier in the region in November.
"With each Balikatan and each cruise by the Stennis, with each new multilateral exercise and each new defense agreement, we add a stitch to the fabric of the region's security network," Carter said in prepared remarks. "This is the network - peaceful, principled, and inclusive - America continues to stand for, and stand with."