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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 46 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Officer Kim Potter arrested, charged with manslaughter in Daunte Wright's death

Photo: Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Kim Potter, the former police officer charged with second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, was released on a $100,000 bond on Wednesday, Hennepin County jail records show.

Why it matters: Sunday's shooting of the 20-year-old Black man in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, just 10 miles from where George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last year, has reinvigorated Black Lives Matter protests and led to three consecutive nights of unrest.

Biden names Erika Moritsugu as senior AAPI liaison

Erika Moritsugu. Photo courtesy: National Partnership for Women & Families

President Biden has named Erika Moritsugu as deputy assistant to the president and Asian American and Pacific Islander senior liaison, the White House announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: The decision follows weeks of pressure from AAPI leaders to include more Asian American representation at the Cabinet level and in senior administration roles.