Biden: China air zone raises risk of accidents | Global News

Biden: China air zone raises risk of accidents

03:13 AM December 04, 2013

US Vice President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe smile together during a joint press conference following their meeting at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. Biden voiced strong opposition Tuesday to China’s new air defense zone above a set of disputed islands, showing a united front with an anxious Japan as tension in the region simmered. AP PHOTO/KOJI SASAHARA

TOKYO—US Vice President Joe Biden voiced strong opposition on Tuesday to China’s new air defense zone above a set of disputed islands, showing a united front with an anxious Japan as tensions in the region simmered.

Standing side by side in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Biden said the United States was “deeply concerned” about China’s attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea.


“This action has raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation,” he said.


Biden said the United States is coordinating closely with allies Japan, South Korea and others, adding that the United States has an interest in lowering tensions in the region.

“I will be raising these issues with great specificity when I meet with Chinese leadership the day after tomorrow,” Biden said.

Biden’s remarks came as Japan is pressing the United States to more actively take Japan’s side in an escalating dispute over China’s new air defense zone above a set of contested islands in the East China Sea.

The United States and Japan have refused to recognize China’s air defense zone above tiny islands that China and Japan both claim. The United States and its allies are concerned China’s move is part of a broader strategy to assert increasing authority in the region.

“The prospect for miscalculation and mistake is too high,” Biden said of the air defense zone.

Alliance invoked


Abe, who met with Biden at the prime minister’s residence here on Tuesday, said he and Biden confirmed that neither country would tolerate the attempt to change the status quo by force. He invoked Japan’s decades-long alliance with the United States in pledging the two would work closely to deal with the situation.

At the same time, Abe appeared to try to smooth over a minor rift that emerged between the United States and Japan as Biden headed to the region over whether commercial airlines should comply with China’s demand that they file flight plans before flying through the zone. Japanese leaders were concerned after word came that the United States was advising American carriers, in line with existing protocol, to comply with such requests from foreign governments.

“We agreed we will not condone any action that could threaten safety of civilian aircraft,” Abe said.

Reluctant to cede any ground, Tokyo has been urging Japanese commercial flights not to notify China before flying through the zone. Word that the United States had advised American commercial carriers to comply rankled leaders in Tokyo, who are hoping a united front with the United States will increase pressure on Beijing to reverse course.

But senior Obama administration officials on Tuesday said that the United States never told American commercial carriers to comply specifically with China’s demands.

Rather, the Federal Aviation Administration merely reaffirmed existing policy that pilots should comply with such instructions anywhere in the world, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to comment by name and demanded anonymity.

The zone covers more than 960 kilometers (600 miles) from north to south, above international waters separating China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. China says all aircraft entering the zone must notify Chinese authorities beforehand or face unspecified defensive measures.

Although the United States has joined Japan and other allies in refusing to recognize the zone, Washington has treaded carefully, wary of creating a new fault line in its relationship with China just as the United States is pursuing a new era of economic cooperation with Beijing.

The show of unity between Biden and Abe will be closely watched by China, as well as other Asian nations worried that the new defense zone may portend further steps by China to assert control in the region.

On Monday, China’s ambassador to the Philippines claimed China has a sovereign right to establish a similar zone over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), where China and the Philippines are locked in another long-running territorial dispute.

The feud promises to trail Biden throughout his weeklong trip to Asia—a tour intended to affirm Washington’s continued interest in upping its presence in the region, in part to counter China’s growing influence.

Meeting with Xi

After a working dinner with Abe on Tuesday night, Biden will fly to Beijing on Wednesday to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, where officials said Biden would raise United States concerns over the zone directly.

Biden will then travel on Thursday to South Korea—another United States ally at odds with China over the air defense zone.

Japan, which claims the islands as its own, is concerned that compliance with China’s demands will allow China to slowly solidify its claim to the tiny islands and the strategically important waters that surround them.

The United States sees rising tensions between China and its neighbors as a threat to US interests, and is concerned that the tense atmosphere increases the likelihood of an incident in the air spiraling out of control.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

The United States doesn’t take a position on the islands’ sovereignty but acknowledges that Japan administers them, meaning US treaty obligations to defend Japan could come into play. AP

TAGS: air defense zone, China, foreign relations, Japan, Joe Biden, territorial disputes, US

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.