The new Chinese air defense zone will not be accepted by the United States, Vice President Joe Biden has said. The new air zone was announced by China on November 23 to international cries of protest. In response to the rising tensions in the Pacific Ocean, Biden is touring the region making clear the United States’ stance on China’s zone changes. Biden emphasized that the new zones will have “no effect” on American activities and that the US fully backs its allies in the region, South Korea and Japan.
The Chinese air zone changes expanded to include airspace north of Taiwan, according to RT. The air zone now covers the Diaoyu Islands, also known as the Senkaku Islands. The islands have become the focus of the latest territorial dispute between Japan and China, both who claim ownership rights. Except for a 27-year period following World War II, Japan has controlled the island group since 1895. China has claimed ownership of the islands since the US handed control back over to Japan in 1972.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Wednesday as part of his regional tour. Talks seemed to prove fruitless, with China refusing to back down on the new air defense zone changes. According to NBC News, Biden was told that Chinese control of the airspace followed international law and should not be protested by the United States. China claims that the new zone is meant to lower the risk of misunderstandings. They also argue against claims that the changes will affect civilian air travel, saying this has yet to happen.
A senior US official traveling with Biden says that Xi was receptive to the Vice President’s arguments, according to sources at NBC News. Now, though, it will be up to the Chinese leadership to make a call on the dispute. Biden says he was “very direct about our firm position” with Xi.
Since the Chinese air zone change declaration on November 23, military aircraft from the US, Japan, and South Korea have intentionally crossed the airspace without permission or warning. In one show of force, the US dispatched B-52 bombers to the zone.
Speaking in Seoul, South Korea, Biden says that the new Chinese air defense zone presents “the possibility of miscalculation” for aircraft near the area, despite Beijing’s claims to the contrary.