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US Vice-President Joe Biden was correct when he said in Tokyo on Tuesday, there is "the need for crisis management mechanisms" for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, because, as he pointed out, "the prospect for miscalculation and mistake is too high".
So he has plenty of things to straighten out while he is in Beijing, on the second leg of his three-country Asia trip.
First of all, despite trying to present the image of being an impartial mediator, Washington has obviously taken Japan's side. Turning a blind eye to Tokyo's provocations, the root cause of the tensions, the United States is wrongly pointing an accusing finger at China for "unilaterally" changing the "status quo" in the East China Sea.
Biden, with his diplomatic record, is believed to be Washington's best bet as a crisis-defuser, but he should not expect any substantial headway if he comes simply to repeat his government's previous erroneous and one-sided remarks.
US Vice-President Joe Biden (L) holds a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, on Dec 3. Biden called China's air zone "an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo" and said that he will raise US concerns when meeting with President Xi Jinping later this week in Beijing.[Photo/Xinhua]
Again, our timely visitor needs to be told: It is Japan that has unilaterally changed the status quo. From its regular patrols of the Diaoyu Islands to the establishment of its new ADIZ, China is just responding to Japanese provocations.
If the US is truly committed to lowering tensions in the region, it must first stop acquiescing to Tokyo's dangerous brinkmanship. It must stop emboldening belligerent Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to constantly push the envelope of Japan's encroachments and provocations.
Most important of all, Biden needs to be reminded that Japan holds the key to peacefully solving the East China Sea dispute, because it is the Abe administration's recalcitrant denial of the existence of a dispute that has prevented Beijing and Tokyo from conducting meaningful communication and crisis control. From the very beginning, Beijing has demonstrated a consistent preference for shelving differences.
Contrary to the Japanese and US allegations, our ADIZ was actually intended to reduce misjudgments and avoid possible conflicts, and the so-called threats to civilian flights are just Abe's crazy hyperbole aimed at deflecting blame.
Instead of echoing Japan's illicit request that we rescind the ADIZ, Biden should try to enlighten the Japanese that it can actually become what our Defense Ministry envisages: "a zone of cooperation, not confrontation".
(China Daily 12/04/2013 page8)