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A South China Sea code of conduct has become a Holy Grail

The foreign ministers of Asean and China recently agreed on a single text to negotiate a code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, a move that has been hailed as an important step forward in efforts to calm regional tensions.

A COC is supposed to guide the behaviour of countries in the disputed areas of the South China Sea but efforts to agree on one has been long and tortuous.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2018, with the headline 'A South China Sea code of conduct has become a Holy Grail'. Print Edition | Subscribe