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The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson sails out of San Diego Harbor as it leaves for a nine month deployment Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in San Diego.  (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

The US deployed an aircraft carrier to the South China Sea despite China's warnings

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The U.S. Navy deployed aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the South China Sea on Saturday despite China's warnings not to challenge its sovereignty.

China claims much of the sea as its own, despite claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. 

China ... firmly opposes any country's attempt to undermine China's sovereignty and security in the name of navigation and overflight.
Geng Shuang, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman

China has been creating artificial islands in the sea since 2013, equipping many with military-grade weapons systems, USA Today reports.

China said it learned about the deployment of the ship on Wednesday, prompting the Foreign Ministry's warning.


The Vinson carrier boasts more than 60 aircraft, including F/A-18 fighter jets.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said China should be blocked from reaching those artificial islands during his confirmation hearing. 

This isn't the first time the U.S. has sent a carrier to the sea. The USS Coronado held a training exercise in the sea last week, and the Vinson was in the sea in 2015, CNN reports.

Roughly $5 trillion in trade passes through the sea each year. 

President Trump repeatedly criticized China, including their involvement in the sea.

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