Oct 20, 2012 1:40 AM by Associated Press
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (AP) - America has sent a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier on a cruise through the South China Sea, projecting its power in waters that are fast becoming a focal point of its strategic rivalry with Beijing.
The USS George Washington's mission could raise hackles in China, which is locked in disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines and other governments over ownership of islands in the region.
The United States is building economic and military alliances with the smaller nations, which are grateful for American support as a hedge against China's growing economic and naval power.
On Friday, China held naval exercises in the East China Sea, where it is engaged in a dispute with U.S. ally Japan over the ownership of other islands.