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The HMS Queen Elizabeth, one of two brand-new British aircraft carriers, trails a collection of tug boats on the Firth of Forth in Scotland last month. U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says the massive carriers, which have been billed as some of the biggest ships ever built for the Royal Navy, will sail through the disputed waterways of the South China Sea as a show of strength. Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

A Chinese J-10 fighter jet, the same model that intercepted U.S. aircraft earlier this week over the East China Sea, takes off from a runway in mainland China in 2014. Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

An official photograph dated April 15 and posted by the Navy shows the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in an Indonesian strait thousands of miles south of North Korea. MC2 Sean M. Castellano/U.S. Navy hide caption

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MC2 Sean M. Castellano/U.S. Navy

Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson suggested at his confirmation hearing that a Trump administration would be willing to wage a showdown over China's recent island building in the South China Sea. Steve Helber/AP hide caption

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Steve Helber/AP

Former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson testifies Wednesday during his confirmation hearing for U.S. secretary of state before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, D.C. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The USNS Bowditch, shown here in open waters, was in the South China Sea to pick up two underwater drones when one of the drones was confiscated by China. CHINFO, Navy Visual News via AP hide caption

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CHINFO, Navy Visual News via AP

In China's Drone Seizure And Return, A Strategic Message To U.S.

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The unmanned underwater vehicle, or UUV, was deployed by the oceanographic survey ship USNS Bowditch (seen here in a U.S. Navy file photo). It was seized by a Chinese warship last week and returned to a U.S. warship Tuesday. U.S. Navy hide caption

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U.S. Navy

A Navy file photo shows T-AGS 60 Class Oceanographic Survey Ship, USNS Bowditch. The Navy says the ship's mission includes oceanographic sampling and data collection and the handling, monitoring and servicing of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), among other things. U.S. Navy hide caption

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U.S. Navy

A generally healthy and diverse assemblage of coral is seen (at left) within a grassy part of the inner reef flat of the Pag-asa Reef of the South China Sea. (At right) Coral has been killed after years of giant clam "chopper" boat operations on an unnamed reef to the east. John McManus/Rosenstiel School, University of Miami hide caption

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John McManus/Rosenstiel School, University of Miami

One Result Of China's Buildup In South China Sea: Environmental Havoc

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Two Chinese divers from the People's Liberation Army Navy are suited up and prepared to observe U.S. Navy divers in an underwater welding exercise. Elise Hu/NPR hide caption

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Elise Hu/NPR

Rising Tensions? Yes, But The U.S. And Chinese Navies Are Training Together

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In this file photo, Philippine navy personnel and congressmen land at a rock that is part of Scarborough Shoal bearing the Philippine flag that was earlier planted by Filipino fishermen. Jess Yuson/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Jess Yuson/AFP/Getty Images

In South China Sea Dispute, Filipinos Say U.S. Credibility Is On The Line

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Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin speaks during a conference at the State Council Information Office on Wednesday in Beijing. VCG via Getty Images hide caption

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VCG via Getty Images

A U.S. Marine amphibious assault vehicle makes its way to shore after leaving an amphibious transport dock ship during a landing exercise on a beach at San Antonio in the Philippines' Zambales Province on April 21, 2015. The exercise was part of annual Philippine-U.S. joint maneuvers and took place some 137 miles east of the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images

Will Hague Tribunal's South China Sea Ruling Inflame U.S.-China Tensions?

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Small fishing boats sit in the dock in Tanmen on Hainan Island. The government has subsidized the upgrading of Tanmen's fishing fleet as part of its drive to exert more control in the South China Sea. Anthony Kuhn/NPR hide caption

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Anthony Kuhn/NPR

In A Chinese Port Town, South China Sea Dispute Is Personal

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Wang Mao-lin, Taiwan's coast guard commander for the Spratly Islands, speaks next to an image of Taiping Island during a visit by journalists to the island on March 23. The island, claimed by Taiwan, is one of many that are dispute in the South China Sea. Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Members of the Chinese navy stand guard on China's first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, in 2013. Tensions in the South China Sea have grown over territorial disputes between China, the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam and others. Reuters/China Stringer Network/Landov hide caption

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Reuters/China Stringer Network/Landov

Who Owns The South China Sea?

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This February 2012 image shows the U.S. guided-missile destroyer Lassen. The U.S. Navy sent the warship within 12 nautical miles (about 22 kilometers) of islands artificially created by China in the South China Sea. Kyodo /Landov hide caption

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Kyodo /Landov