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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 8 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 11 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.