News / Asia

Biden: Conflict With China Not Inevitable

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) chats with Chinese Vice Premier Li Yuanchao before their luncheon at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Dec. 5, 2013.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) chats with Chinese Vice Premier Li Yuanchao before their luncheon at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Dec. 5, 2013.
William Ide
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says that while Washington's relationship with Beijing is complex and the two countries have real differences, conflict is not inevitable. Biden made his those remarks Thursday on the last day of his stopover in Beijing on a three-nation tour to Asia.

Biden's trip to Asia has been overshadowed by concerns about China's recent establishment of an air defense identification zone over the East China Sea that includes territory also claimed by Japan.

Computer screens display map showing outline of China's new air defense zone in the East China Sea, website of Chinese Ministry of Defense, Beijing, Nov. 26, 2013.Computer screens display map showing outline of China's new air defense zone in the East China Sea, website of Chinese Ministry of Defense, Beijing, Nov. 26, 2013.
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Computer screens display map showing outline of China's new air defense zone in the East China Sea, website of Chinese Ministry of Defense, Beijing, Nov. 26, 2013.
Computer screens display map showing outline of China's new air defense zone in the East China Sea, website of Chinese Ministry of Defense, Beijing, Nov. 26, 2013.
China says the zone was established to safeguard the country's national security and that it will not affect freedom of aviation in the area. So far, China has not interfered with flights in the zone, but it has scrambled fighter jets to the area, heightening concerns about a possible miscalculation in the air.

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.

The zone was one of several key issues Biden discussed in more than five hours of meetings Wednesday with China's President Xi Jinping.

Although the vice president refrained from speaking out on the issue publicly prior to that meeting,  he touched on it during an address Thursday to a group of business leaders in Beijing.

“China's recent and sudden announcement of the establishment of a new air defense identification zone has, to state the obvious, caused significant apprehension in the region. And I was very direct about our firm position and our expectations in my conversations with President Xi," he said.

Biden also noted that differences between the U.S. and China go far beyond security issues.

"We've had many disagreements, and some profound disagreements on some of those issues right now, the treatment of U.S. journalists, but I believe China will be stronger and more stable and more innovative if it respects universal human rights," he said.

Forging a new relationship

But, the vice president added that while the relationship is complex and differences real, conflict with China is not inevitable. He says that the United States and China are working to forge a new relationship between major powers that is defined by constructive cooperation.

“Wholesome competition and strong competition is fundamentally different than conflict. In fact, we see considerable common interest on the security side. A secure and peaceful Asia Pacific enables economic growth for the entire region," he said.

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During his trip to Asia, Biden has been urging China to take steps to reduce tensions over the zone.  On his first stop in Japan, he suggested establishing "confidence building measures, including emergency communications channels.”

When asked what China thought of Biden’s suggestions, however, a Foreign Ministry spokesman noted Thursday that during meetings with Chinese leaders both countries agreed that they should enhance dialogue and communication. The spokesman urged Washington to respect China’s establishment of the zone, which it says was done in line with international laws and conventions.

After visiting China, Biden travels next to South Korea, which has also expressed reservations about the ADIZ. Seoul is the last stop on his Asian tour.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Will from: Texas
December 06, 2013 9:10 AM
I Feel We Should JUst Stick All Our Noses Down Stay I OUr Country And Start Takin Of Our Own Countries Problems. That's What ThE Four Fathers Wanted. I Personally Am Open To Cultural Differences And Embrace Them That's What Makes Life So Beautiful Change Itself.


by: Paul from: Hubei China
December 05, 2013 7:00 PM
The so called air defense noticication zone is just a farce used to divert people's attention both inside and outside China. What the Americans need to do is just paying no attention to it. Let them be busy flying fighter jets if they like to do it. Internationa aviation will never be affected because the Chinese air force does not have the guts to shot down any plane in international skies. I think one thing Mr. Biden might have done that may make the Chinese authorities unconfortable is to hammer away on its human rights issue. You see, VOA's "Global Live has been blocked since October. If Mr. Biden had mentioned this issue when he met Xi jingping, it would have given him a big embarrassment and might have solved the problem.


by: harold
December 05, 2013 1:12 PM
The US and China will be rivals, but we, and they, would be stupid to become enemies.


by: charlie from: Califoria
December 05, 2013 12:59 PM
Either Biden's phraseology leaves a lot to be desired or your headline writers. But if Biden KNOWS we WILL be dragged into conflict if Japan and China come to blows, then we don't want to surprise the Chinese after the fact when it would be too late to save face. Better to be clear about it than cloud it up with tact and smiles. But as the son a Pacific War vet I think it would be bad to dragged into a war with China to support Japan's claims to those islands that should have been given to Peking in 45 when Russia got islands north of Japan. China earned them. But if Obama is "standing tall"on this one the next president will probably continue this. Adjusting to new world dynamics means exactly that, adjusting, Are our promises of military support given decades ago eternal in nature? Are our pacts made against the Soviets going to be the dead hand of history weighing us down in a new world without the USSR?

In Response

by: jack delphy from: UK
December 08, 2013 4:46 AM
Don't the people in the US have enough to worry about, a stagnant economy, high unemployment, two pointless wars and at least 2 undeclared wars, a national debt that is unpayable, a jesters in the capitol while policy is made elsewhere. The US should stop meddling in asian affairs and concentrate its efforts at home


by: Zvetlanna Samaruk from: Ukraine
December 05, 2013 10:46 AM
and in S. Korea Bidon is badmouthing the Chinese stinking corruption and posturing... this Obama administration has not only lost all American credibility in the world but is in danger of becoming anti-American...

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