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On board the USS Ronald Reagan in October 16, 2019. Photo: Catherine Lai/AFP/Getty Images

Two U.S. aircraft carriers—the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Nimitz—are heading toward the South China Sea to conduct military exercises just as China is conducting drills in the area as well, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: China claims sovereignty over most of the sea, which other Southeast Asian countries reject, per the Journal. Tensions between the U.S. and China also remain high over trade, the coronavirus pandemic and China's recent effort to exert more control over Hong Kong.

Between the lines per Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: The show of military force is intended to convey to Beijing that its recent provocative acts in the South China Sea have not gone unnoticed.

What they're saying: Rear Adm. George M. Wikoff, commander of a strike group led by USS Ronald Reagan, said, "The purpose is to show an unambiguous signal to our partners and allies that we are committed to regional security and stability.”

Go deeper

Oct 6, 2020 - World

Negative views of China surge around the world

Data: Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

Views of China in many countries have become more negative, with unfavorable views spiking in the past year as survey respondents disapproved of China's coronavirus response, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Why it matters: Beijing's global propaganda campaign earlier this year to deflect blame for the pandemic seems to have failed.

Updated 7 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases — Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  4. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Leon Black says he "made a terrible mistake" doing business with Jeffrey Epstein

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Rick Friedman/Corbis/Getty Images

Apollo Global Management CEO Leon Black on Thursday said during an earnings call that he made a "terrible mistake" by employing Jeffrey Epstein to work on personal financial and philanthropic services.

Why it matters: Apollo is one of the world's largest private equity firms, and already has lost at least one major client over Black's involvement with Epstein.