On visit, Biden to challenge Beijing over East China Sea

11/27/2013 5:23 PM

11/27/2013 5:42 PM

Vice President Joe Biden will convey the Obama administration's concerns over China's recent decision to extend its vital airspace to include a disputed portion of the East China Sea while on a visit to Asia.

"It's especially important, I think, at a time when there is the potential in the region for some miscalculation, some mistrust, that we continue to amplify our messages -- that we are and always will be there for our allies, and that there is a way for two major powers in the U.S. and China to build a different kind of relationship for the 21st century," according to a senior administration offiical.

Biden's week-long trip, which begins Sunday, will include meetings with the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea. He will return Dec. 8.

Other topics on his agenda: the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, U.S. efforts to bring about a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and the economic relationship with China.

President Barack Obama has tried but often struggled, to pivot to Asia, a region growing in importance. He canceled his trip  to southeast Asia last month after the federal government shutdown.

"The trip will underscore the administration’s strong commitment to the rebalance, and to our enduring role as a Pacific power," a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday. "It is an opportunity to give lift to our treaty alliances and to advance our very important relationship with China."

Biden will have a wide-ranging talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a stop in Beijing in which he is likely to raise objections to China's claim of control of air zone over disputed waters between itself and U.S.-ally Japan. The United States sent two military planes into the area, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Japan controlled the eight islands from 1895 to 1945, when they were transferred to U.S. administration at the end of World War II. Japan resumed control in 1972, but China began to assert its claim after oil was discovered beneath the islands in 1968.

He will "have the opportunity to make clear to the Chinese leadership that we have concerns and questions," an official said. "But I think that underlying point here is that the strain caused by the series of actions by China in relations with its Asian neighbors is not a good thing. It's not good for the United States; it's not a good thing for anyone. I think the visit allows the vice president to discuss the issue of how China operates in international space and deals areas of disagreement with neighbors."

In Japan, Biden will meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and take part in an event on the need for increasing the participation of women in Japan's workforce alongside U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.

In Korea, Biden will meet with President Park Geun-hye, give a speech on the U.S.-Korea alliance at a university and lay a wreath at a memorial for U.S. soldiers who fought in the Korean War. .

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