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WASHINGTON — US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the United States is taking action to make sure it militarily stays ahead of China.

The United States is taking action to make sure it militarily stays ahead of China, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Friday in remarks at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

“We definitely keep an eye on China and we take specificactions to make sure we stay ahead of Chinese military capabilities,” Carter said. “This is built into our budget.”

The US defense secretary stopped off in Hawaii during his return from talks with Asian counterparts in Malaysia this week.

“Our policy with respect to this region is not one to divide or exclude, keep out China or anyone else. Our policy is one of inclusion,” Carter said.

On Thursday, Carter visited the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea signalling the US intention of maintaining a strong naval presence in the region.

“We are concerned about their [Chinese] activities in the South China Sea,” he said, adding that these disagreements should be resolved diplomatically.

Carter who first to publicly propose using naval patrols in the South China Sea to challenge Chinese territorial claims around the Spratly archipelago, and he reiterated that policy in his comments.

“The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law permits,” Carter stated.

However, the Pentagon’s decision to send patrol ships through contested waters in the South China Sea has outraged Chinese officials. PNA/Sputnik