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For Biden in China, tense reunion with Xi Jinping

For Biden in China, tense reunion with Xi Jinping

December 3rd, 2013 in News

TOKYO (AP) - In what was supposed to be a warm reunion, Vice President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet instead Wednesday in a climate fraught with tension over an airspace dispute that has put Asia on edge. A day before seeing Xi, Biden stood in Japan and publicly rebuked China for trying to enforce its will on its neighbors, escalating the risk of a potentially dangerous accident.

Although Biden had hoped to focus on areas of cooperation as the U.S. seeks an expanded Asia footprint, China's declaration of a new air defense zone above disputed islands in the East China Sea has pitted the U.S. and China against each other, creating a wide gulf that Biden will seek to bridge during his two-day trip to Beijing.

Despite Washington's preference not to get involved in a territorial spat, concerns that China's action could portend a broader effort to assert its dominance in the region has drawn in the U.S., putting Biden in the middle as he jets from Japan to China to South Korea on a weeklong tour of Asia.

"We, the United States, are deeply concerned by the attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea," Biden said after meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. "This action has raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation."

To that end, Biden said he would raise those concerns with China's leaders "with great specificity" during his Beijing visit.