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Those included Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam, all nations with claims in the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea, most of which China claims as its own sovereign territory.

It has no territorial claims in the region, but like many countries it relies on busy shipping lanes in and around the South China Sea.

It was the first time in six years that two US aircraft carriers had converged on the South China Sea.

US planes fly in formation above the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Groups as they conduct dual carrier operations in the South China Sea.

The article noted reports of PLA fighter jets being deployed to Woody Island in the contested Paracel chain — known as the Xisha islands in China — in the northern reaches of the South China Sea.

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