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International relations

Xi's South China Sea 'fishermen' risk hooking US into conflict

Chinese friction with Philippines and Vietnam raises odds of miscalculation

TAIPEI/MANILA -- The chances of an armed clash in the South China Sea appear to be rising fast, even as China paints a picture of regional harmony while it works with Southeast Asian neighbors on a code of conduct for the crucial waterway.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing on March 8 that China and others in the region seek to conclude talks on the code by 2021. Wang said this will provide "stronger safeguards for safety and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and enable China and ASEAN to build trust, manage disagreements, strengthen cooperation and maintain stability."

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