U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said China's new air defense zone in the East China Sea has created "significant apprehension" in the region.
Biden told a group of U.S. business leaders in Beijing Thursday he was "very direct" about the matter during his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
However, the vice president said conflict between Beijing and Washington was not inevitable, despite sometimes having disagreements.
"We are trying to build a new kind of relationship between major powers, one that is different, one that is defined by constructive cooperation, healthy competition, and a shared respect for an agreed upon new set of rules of the road in international norms for the 21st century,” said Biden.
Biden and Xi met for about five hours Wednesday, during which the U.S. leader said he expressed Washington's "firm position and expectations" on the air defense zone.
China's foreign ministry said Xi told Biden the zone was in accordance with international law and that the U.S. should take an "objective and fair attitude" about it.
The U.S. has rejected China's Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, which China set up last month and includes territory claimed by U.S. ally Japan.
The issue was expected to dominate Biden's China talks, which continued Thursday during a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
Biden travels later in the day to South Korea, which has also rejected China's ADIZ. Seoul is the last stop on Biden's week-long Asia tour.
On his first stop in Japan, Biden suggested establishing "confidence building measures, including emergency communications channels," to help reduce tensions.
The U.S., Japan, and South Korea have all sent military planes to the region in recent days, defying China's demand that they notify Beijing beforehand.
China has not interfered with the flights, but has scrambled fighter jets to the area, heightening concerns about a possible miscalculation in the air.
Biden said Thursday that China must take steps "to reduce the risk of accidental conflict and miscalculation," and refrain from making moves that increase tension.
He also addressed other issues of contention between the U.S. and China. Specifically, he spoke of a "profound disagreement" over China's treatment of U.S. journalists.
Many U.S. and other foreign journalists have complained of restrictions following their publication of material that offended Beijing. Some have called for U.S. officials to address the matter at a high level with Chinese leaders.