Biden Stirs Pot in Beijing as Tensions Simmer

He begins China visit amid soaring regional tensions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2013 3:15 AM CST
Updated Dec 4, 2013 7:45 AM CST
Stakes High as Biden Hits Beijing
Joe Biden talks to visa applicants at the US Embassy Consular Section in Beijing today.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, Pool)

Joe Biden has landed in Beijing for what was meant to be a trade mission but has become a high-stakes bid to calm soaring regional tensions over China's new air-defense zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

  • The vice president has been attacked in state media for remarks he made in Tokyo yesterday, warning that the US is "deeply concerned" about attempts to change the status quo in the region, reports the Guardian. Biden can't expect to make progress if he makes "erroneous and one-sided remarks," a China Daily editorial said, adding that "if the US is truly committed to lowering tensions in the region it must first stop acquiescing to Tokyo's dangerous brinkmanship."

  • As Biden arrived, China's defense ministry warned it was "fully capable of exercising effective control" over the zone, but signaled a willingness to defuse tensions, notes the New York Times. The zone "will not affect the freedom of overflight, based on international laws, of other countries' aircraft" and it will not be necessary to scramble fighter jets when incoming aircraft pose no threat, the ministry said.
  • Before meeting President Xi Jinping, Biden stopped off at the US Embassy, where he urged Chinese students waiting for visas to challenge authority, reports the AP. "Children in America are rewarded—not punished—for challenging the status quo," he said."The only way you make something totally new is to break the mold of what was old."
  • In a separate development involving one of the many other areas where the US and China are at odds, Washington warned South Korea over its plans to let a Chinese company develop its wireless network, reports the Wall Street Journal. The warning about the Huawei Technologies deal is part of an American push to prevent allies from exposing critical networks to Chinese technology—and potentially espionage. The issue will no doubt come up when Biden visits Seoul later this week as the last stop on his regional tour.
(Read more Joe Biden stories.)

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