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Mrs. Clinton arrived in China from Indonesia, where she urged Southeast Asian nations to present a unified front in dealing with Beijing in attempts to ease rising tensions in the South China Sea.

China and a host of Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei, have overlapping claims to several small but potentially energy-rich areas of sea, reefs and islands.

The U.S. wants China and the other claimants to adopt a binding code of conduct for the region, along with a process to resolve maritime disputes without coercion, intimidation or the use of force.