Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. delivered a carefully calibrated show of support for Japan on Tuesday, declaring the United States was “deeply concerned” about China’s move to control airspace contested with Japan. But he stopped short of demanding that China retreat, and urged the feuding neighbors to talk to each other.
Mr. Biden’s statement, at the start of an unexpectedly challenging trip to Asia that includes a stop in Beijing, captured the strategic complexities for the United States in the tense showdown between Japan and China over disputed claims in the East China Sea.
China, Mr. Biden said, was trying to “unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea,” with an air defense identification zone that he said “raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation.” He said he would raise the American concerns in detail when he meets with the Chinese leadership on Wednesday.
Read the rest of the story: Biden, in Japan, Calibrates Message Over Tensions With China.
A war of words between Japan and China over a territorial dispute escalated Monday, with each country summoning the other’s ambassador and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling a newly declared Chinese maritime air defense zone dangerous and unenforceable.
Abe told a parliamentary session that the zone alters the state of affairs in the East China Sea and escalates a tense situation.
“The measures by the Chinese side have no validity whatsoever for Japan, and we demand China revoke any measures that could infringe upon the freedom of flight in international airspace,” Abe said. “It can invite an unexpected occurrence and it is a very dangerous thing as well.”
On Saturday, Beijing issued a map of the zone and a set of rules that say all aircraft must notify Chinese authorities and are subject to emergency military measures if they do not identify themselves or obey Beijing’s orders.
Abe said the measures one-sidedly impose rules set by the Chinese military on all flights in the zone, and violate the freedom to fly above open sea, a general principle under international law. He also slammed China for showing the disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, as Chinese territory in the zone.