A US aircraft carrier group headed by the USS Ronald Reagan has entered the South China Sea as a part of a regular assignment, the US Navy stated, at one time of rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, which maintains the majority of the contested waterway.

China often objects to US military assignments in the South China Sea, stating they don’t help promote stability or peace, and the most recent assignment comes after China condemned the Group of Seven (G7) nations to get a statement criticising Beijing above a selection of issues.

“While at the South China Sea, the strike team is conducting maritime security operations, including flight operations with stationary and rotary-wing aircraft, marine attack exercises, and coordinated strategic training between air and surface units,” that the US Navy said.

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“Carrier operations from the South China Sea are a part of the US Navy’s regular presence in the Indo-Pacific.”

China has ramped up its military presence in the South China Sea in recent years, including building artificial islands and air bases, where it has installed missile systems and other equipment.

The South China Sea has become one of many flashpoints in the testy relationship between China and the US, with Washington rejecting what it calls unlawful territorial claims by Beijing in the resource-rich waters, which are also claimed by Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.

In a show of force against the Chinese claims, US warships have passed through the South China Sea with increasing frequency in recent years, invoking freedom of navigation rights.