U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited China to calm tensions about air defense zones in Northeast Asia. He held a talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping for five and a half hours, discussing ways to decrease tensions about China’s steps to gain control over the airspace on a chain of islands claimed by both Japan and China. Known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, Japan has been the acting sovereign power on these islands since 1972, and it is only now that China is challenging Japan’s presence. Two weeks ago, China issued a declaration saying it had established an air defense zone over the islands. The U.S and Japanese nations have not recognized China’s claim.
Many including Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao hoped that Biden’s visit would further strengthen the Chinese-American ties Obama had been building with Xi in California in June.
During the meeting with Xi today, Biden said the U.S.-China relationship is “full of promise.” However, the China Daily says that Biden is not likely to make progress with improving the relationship if his visit is “simply to repeat his government’s previous erroneous and one-sided remarks”. Biden, expressing the opinion of the United States, maintained that China’s action to “unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea” has “raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation.”
At the same time, Biden is looking to change the status quo in China by encouraging Chinese youth to challenge their religious, educational and governmental authority figures. “The only way you make something totally new is to break the mold of what was old,” Biden said. Conceding that the Chinese educational system beats America’s, Biden stands by the United State’s perceived liberal intellectual culture, arguing that “children in America are rewarded -not punished- for challenging the status quo.”
Biden will leave China on Thursday and fly to Seoul, South Korea for the remainder of his visit to Southeast Asia.