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Candid talk seen as key to Biden's visits through Asia

Updated: 2013-12-02 11:23
By Chen Weihua in Washington, Pu Zhendong and Zhang Fan in Beijing ( China Daily USA)

Clarifi cation of air defense zone sought to help ease new tensions

Candid communication between Beijing and Washington is needed to disperse the tension over China's air defense identification zone and contribute to regional stability, observers said on the eve of US Vice-President Joe Biden's East Asia trip.

Saying that Biden will seek clarification on China's newly designated ADIZ, a senior US administration official said Biden is "going to have a very high-level and a very wide-ranging dialogue with the senior Chinese leadership that covers a wide range of shared interests".

Biden is scheduled to land in Japan on Monday for the first leg of his weeklong trip. The trip will also bring him to China on Wednesday for two days before he winds up his tour in South Korea.

Biden will meet with President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Vice-President Li Yuanchao in China.

Shen Dingli, associate dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said Biden's visit is a further step to regularize high-level exchange visits, boost the new type of major country relations, dismiss distrust and assure China that the US pivot to Asia-Pacific doesn't specifically target China.

Shen said he believes the East China Sea ADIZ will be a focus of discussion.

Niu Jun, a professor of US studies at Peking University, said Washington would not want to see regional tensions escalate, and Biden can act as a peacemaker, given his strong personal relations with leaders of the countries concerned.

"Biden's talk with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will also cover a broad range of issues from diplomacy to security, while commercial ties will be at the top of his China agenda," Niu said.

Stapleton Roy, a scholar at the Kissinger Institute on China and the US at the Wilson Center, said that one of the major aims of Biden's tour is to reduce and manage differences between the countries.

"The US and China have a common interest in peace and stability in East Asia, but their approaches will often differ because of historic and geographic factors and the dissimilar nature of their relations with countries in the region," Roy said.

Zha Daojiong, a professor of international relations at Peking University, said the Obama Administration appears to be marching deeper in taking ownership of the diplomatic impasses among Tokyo, Beijing, and Seoul and many in Washington would prefer to reject validity in such observation.

"The truth of the matter is that in the three Northeast Asian capitals expectations of words and actions of 'reassurance' from Washington DC can easily strain US wish to satisfy all," he said.

"As such, realistically, the Biden trip can and should function as one that personifies the usual American call for restraint by each of the three Northeast Asian capitals against conflict, which no party desires," Zha said.

On Friday, Washington advised its commercial airlines to comply with China's demand to report any flights passing through China's ADIZ.

"The US government generally expects that US carriers operating internationally will operate consistent with Notices to Airmen issued by foreign countries," said a statement from the Spokesman's Office of the US State Department.

The expectation, however, "does not indicate US government's acceptance of China's requirements for operating in the newly declared ADIZ", it said.

Following the advice, US airlines United, American and Delta said they have notified Chinese authorities of flight plans when traveling through China's zone.

In contrast, two major Japanese airlines - ANA Holdings and Japan Airlines - have flown through the zone without informing China as required.

Reuters contributed to this story.