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The U.S. Air Force flew B-52 bombers close to the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on June 5, CNN reports. The United States is also considering sending warships through the Taiwan Strait on a regular basis. A U.S. aircraft carrier last transited the strait in 2007.
The increased pace of U.S. deployments will lead to increased tensions and will further exacerbate the growing rivalry between Washington and Beijing..China has increased its military presence in the South China Sea, including deploying electronic warfare equipment and surface-to-air missiles to the Paracel and Spratly Islands. On May 29, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the United States will continue "a steady drumbeat" of naval exercises to challenge China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.-RW