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Biden warns China against escalating air zone tensions

BEIJING -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned China on Thursday against escalating a dispute over an East China Sea air zone, adding that regional peace and stability were in Beijing's interests.

Biden also criticized China's tightening of controls on foreign journalists, stressing that the world's second-largest economy could become more prosperous with American values such as human rights and freedom of speech.

China's controversial move last month to declare an “air defense identification zone” (ADIZ) — which includes islands disputed with Japan — has “caused significant apprehension in the region,” Biden told a group of 60 American business leaders Thursday morning.

“As China's economy grows, its stake in regional peace and stability will continue to grow as well, because it has so much more to lose,” he added.

“That's why China will bear increasing responsibility to contribute positively to peace and security.”

Biden reiterated in his meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping that the U.S. does not recognize China's newly declared air zone, a senior White House official told reporters in Beijing late Wednesday.

China says all aircraft within it must obey its instructions or risk unspecified “defensive emergency measures.”

The move provoked anger in the region and prompted the U.S., Japan and South Korea all to defy Beijing by flying military and paramilitary aircraft — including two B-52 bombers in Washington's case — into the newly declared zone.

The U.S. official, who spoke anonymously in order to discuss Biden's talks, added that it is now up to Beijing to take action “to avoid the risk of mistake, miscalculation, accident or escalation.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei, meanwhile, said Thursday that the U.S. “should respect” that the zone “is in line with international laws and conventions.”

Beijing sees Tokyo as the aggressor in the dispute over the islands, which are controlled by Japan but claimed by China.

Biden went on to South Korea late Thursday for the final leg of his three-country trip before returning to Washington.

Despite the heightened nationalistic feelings and rhetoric surrounding the issue — which hinges on a decades-old dispute over the Tokyo-controlled island group — experts say that any outbreak of violence remains unlikely, as the major trade relationship between the two Asian powers is a strong incentive for both sides to avoid conflict.

December 6, 2013    jk3@
China will never be held accountable for anything it does because American businesses are so desperate to sell things to 1.3 billion people. One day we're going to realize that it's pointless. How horrible is it that Hollywood is actually helping to fund Chinese propaganda with all these local language co-productions.
December 6, 2013    asianviews48@
What's the issue? If US and Japan do not want to recognize China's ADIZ, then China shouldn't recognize their ADIZ.

Let them cool down for now, then later China should fly their bombers into Japan's and US's ADIZ in a tit for tat like Russia who does it every now and then.

I don't agree that US & Japan should require China to obtain their prior consent when they didn't obtain prior consent from China when they set up theirs...Tsk Tsk
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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, right, chats with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang before heading to their meeting at the Zhongnanhai diplomatic compound in Beijing on Thursday, Dec. 5. (AFP)

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