BEIJING: United States (US) Vice President Joe Biden said on Thursday China’s air zone had caused “significant apprehension” and Beijing needed to reduce Asia-Pacific tensions to protect its growing stake in regional peace and stability.
Biden, speaking to about 60 US business leaders in the Chinese capital, expressed alarm over the country’s move to expand its military influence in the skies over the East China Sea, and said he discussed the issue during more than four hours of talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“China’s recent and sudden announcement of the establishment of a new air defense identification zone has, to state the obvious, caused significant apprehension in the region,” Biden said.
“And I was very direct about our firm position and our expectations in my conversations with President Xi.”
China declared last month that it had established an air defense identification zone (ADIZ), over an area off its southeast coast that includes a group of islands disputed with Japan.
It says all aircraft within it must obey its instructions or risk unspecified “defensive emergency measures.”
The move provoked anger in the region and prompted the US to defy Beijing by flying two B-52 bombers into the newly declared zone.
Biden’s remarks came on the final day of his two-day visit to Beijing.
The issue has dominated the agenda of his trip, which took him to Tokyo earlier this week and was due to carry on in Seoul on Thursday.
Neither Biden nor Xi made any direct mention of the ADIZ in their comments to reporters after Wednesday’s meetings.
But a senior White House official reiterated that while the US did not recognize China’s move, it was key that Beijing did not take any actions connected to the zone that would escalate the situation.