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US aircraft carrier group enters South China Sea amid tensions in Taiwan

 A US carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt entered the South China Sea to promote "freedom of the seas," the US military said on Sunday, at a time when tensions between China and Taiwan have raised concerns in Washington.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that the strike group entered the South China Sea on Saturday, the same day that Taiwan reported a large incursion by Chinese bombers and fighter jets into its China ID zone. air defense in the vicinity of the Pratas Islands.

The US military said the carrier strike group was in the South China Sea, a large part of which is claimed by China, to conduct routine operations "to ensure the freedom of the seas, build partnerships that promote maritime security".

"After navigating these waters throughout my 30-year career, it is great to be back in the South China Sea, conducting routine operations, promoting the freedom of the seas, and reassuring allies and partners," Rear Admiral said. Strike group commander Doug Verissimo was quoted as saying.

US aircraft carrier group enters South China Sea amid tensions in Taiwan

"With two-thirds of world trade traveling through this very important region, it is vital that we maintain our presence and continue to promote the rules-based order that has allowed us to prosper," Verissimo said in the statement.

The announcement comes just days after Joe Biden took office as president of the United States.

Biden's candidate for secretary of state Antony Blinken said Tuesday at his Senate confirmation hearing that "there is no question" that China represents the most important challenge to the United States of any nation.

China has repeatedly complained that US Navy ships approach the Chinese-occupied islands in the South China Sea, where Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have competing claims.

The Theodore Roosevelt is being accompanied by the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, and the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Russell and USS John Finn, the US statement said.

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