The United States deployed aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to patrol the increasingly contentious South China Sea on Saturday despite Beijing’s warnings not to challenge its sovereignty in the resource-rich sea.

In a statement, the Navy described the launch as the beginning of “routine operations” in the South China Sea. China claims most of the sea as its own, despite overlapping territorial and jurisdictional claims from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

On Wednesday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang denounced advance news of the deployment at a news conference.

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