The Straits Times
Published on Oct 20, 2012

US aircraft carrier cruises through disputed South China Sea


ON BOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (AP) - A United States (US) aircraft carrier group cruised through the disputed South China Sea on Saturday, in a show of American power in waters that are fast becoming a focal point of Washington's strategic rivalry with Beijing.

Vietnamese security and government officials were flown onto the nuclear-powered USS George Washington ship, underlining the burgeoning military relationship between the former enemies.

A small number of journalists were also invited to witness the display of maritime might in the waters, which are home to islands disputed between China and other smaller parties facing the sea.

China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea. But the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan, have overlapping claims in the area. The disputes attracted little international interest until the late 1990s, when surveys indicated possible large oil reserves.