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Reining in China Dropped in Biden’s Hands

Biden "knows President Xi as well, or better, than probably any American and possibly virtually any leader," admin officials say while downplaying conflict.

by
Bridget Johnson

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November 27, 2013 - 4:18 pm
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WASHINGTON — The White House is tasking Vice President Joe Biden with the delicate duty of asserting U.S. power in Asia while ensuring that all parties play nice despite “a number of difficult legacy issues remaining from the previous century.”

Biden departs Monday for the weeklong swing through Japan, China and South Korea on what officials say is a “long-planned trip” intended to follow up on President Obama’s meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Southern California over the summer.

But senior administration officials this morning also indicated that the White House doesn’t plan on getting confrontational over China’s recent establishment of an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone over the disputed Senkaku Islands also claimed by Japan.

Under the new rules, all aircraft must get clearance from Chinese authorities or face a military reaction from PRC authorities guarding the zone. Washington responded by flying two unarmed B-52 bombers through the new zone.

China responded by announcing that they were watching, noting that the bombers “flew south and north along the eastern border of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone from 11:00 a.m. to 1:22 p.m. Tuesday, about 200 km to the east of the Diaoyu Islands.”

“We need to stress that China will identify every aircraft flying in the air defense identification zone according to the country’s announcement of aircraft identification rules for the air defense identification zone,” China’s defense ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said. “China is capable of exercising effective control over this airspace.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked today whether the U.S. sees China’s announcement that it monitored the planes as an “implicit threat.”

“I would point you to DOD on specifics on that. They were their planes, part of a military exercise, but I don’t have any more specifics on it for you from here,” she said. There was a meeting today between Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and China’s vice minister of foreign affairs, but Psaki likewise brushed that off as “long scheduled, long before this.”

“There’ll be a range of issues discussed during that meeting, of course, including this, but it will likely – it will definitely be broader than that,” she added.

White House officials took much the same tack with the Biden trip: Even though China had upped the ante with its seizure of airspace the administration would be more focused on developing its “rich agenda” with the communist country.

“I think the fact that Vice President Biden has extraordinarily close and warm relations with the leaders of each of the three countries that he’s going to be visiting next week is quite an important factor in diplomacy and the rebalance,” a senior administration official said today, adding that Biden “knows President Xi as well, or better, than probably any American and possibly — virtually any — any leader.”

“So this matters. And I think that what you will see is that this relationship enables him to conduct a high level and a high quality dialogue that’s particularly valuable today among these three countries,” the official continued. “I would say all four of us — the U.S. and the Japanese, and the Chinese and the South Koreans — share quite a rich agenda across a spectrum of economic, and security, and global and regional issues. So it warrants this kind of high-level close coordination.”

The official downplayed the assertion that Biden would be going there to defuse any conflict, saying that “we’ve seen good progress” on engagement and dialogue between the two militaries since Biden’s last visit to China.

On the air defense zone, “clearly, the visit to China creates an opportunity for the vice president to discuss directly with policy makers in Beijing this issue to convey our concerns directly, and to seek clarity regarding the Chinese intentions in making this move at this time.”

“It also allows the vice president, I think, to make the broader point that there’s an emerging pattern of behavior by China that is unsettling to China’s own neighbors, and raising questions about how China operates in international space and how China deals with areas of disagreement with its neighbors,” the official continued. “But at the same time, to put it in perspective, you know, the vice president of the United States is not traveling to Beijing to deliver a demarche, let alone on a single issue. He’s going to have a — a very high-level and a very wide-ranging dialogue with senior Chinese leadership that covers a wide range of shared interests along with areas of concern, areas of cooperation, and areas of de-confliction.”

A senior administration official said China needs to “clarify its intentions…as a civil aviation matter, but also as a strategic matter.”

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Top Rated Comments   
How do say "gaffe machine" in Japanese, Korean and Mandarin?

Biden, Kerry, Obama...the thought of China gearing up for our demise is slightly less scary than the fact that we are not.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (15)
All Comments   (15)
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Joe will take out his double barrel, fire both barrels in the air and scare those pesky Chinese into behaving correctly.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
At least the four nations involved will have one thing they are in agreement over...Biden is an idiot! At least that is a start to a discussion.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I wonder if Joe is going to take his shotgun with him on this trip.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Slow Joe is gonna match wits, Mano a Mano, as it were, against the Chiners?

Yeah, good luck with that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If I were the Chinese, I'd be offended.

I guess the Chinese threat just isn't important enough for Obama to waste his time on the matter, so he sends a world-class buffoon to keep the Chinese amused.

There was a time, not too long ago, when American foreign policy was a serious undertaking. Now it's in the hands of idiots.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Slightly off-topic right here, but let's not forget that also among the larger foreign affaires messes of this amateur "administration" in this particularly dangerous East Asian context is the appointment of that Jack Kennedy daughter as Ambassador to Japan.

If I were the Japanese, I'd be very offended.

Now, combine the glaring emptiness of both of those "personalities" and we have still another chapter of Obama led tragi-comedy.

Gilbert&Sullivan's "Mikado" on a double bill with any random Chinese Opera comes to mind.

Rank, smelly blame is settling in on both Houses of Congress right now like very quickly fermenting fish sauce for permitting such silliness to continue.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How do say "gaffe machine" in Japanese, Korean and Mandarin?

Biden, Kerry, Obama...the thought of China gearing up for our demise is slightly less scary than the fact that we are not.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The scariest part about sending Biden over to Asia to deal with a potential crisis? It's actually the least worst option. Dear Liar has the anti-Midas touch, and Kerry just let Iran do what it wants with nukes so by default Clueless Joe is the adult in the room.

And Bridget, Happy Thanksgiving to the puppacita. We want pictures.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If the admin decides to drop some news at 5 p.m. tomorrow I may just let the puppacita write it for me: https://twitter.com/Bridget_PJM/status/402636660191399936

Happy Thanksgiving!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All of this busy-ness of Biden jumping into the ADIZ fray is evasion by spokesmen[-women] from our pretentious and august State Department.

His title as Vice President lends him a certain "Face" in his smiling meetings with Chinese leaders, but beyond that, it's doubtful that Joe Biden has any gravitas.

Red carpets from aircraft steps, and blaring trumpets [literally and figuratively] during walk-pasts of ranks of ramrod troops.....etc etc etc.

The Chinese are smirking behind their elaborate courtesies.

This current "administration" is an absolute danger to the United States. This Chinese caper is merely the latest.

Where are the drafts of the Bill of Impeachment of this creature, Barak Hussein Obama?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sorry, even at this point the Senate would not vote to remove him. What's your Plan B?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When all else fails, send in the court jester.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
...Biden “knows President Xi as well, or better, than probably any American and possibly — virtually any — any leader.”

Buffoonery and hyperbole go foot in mouth with this administration.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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