US "very direct" in voicing firm objection to China's air defence zone: Biden

The United States has been "very direct" in voicing its firm objection over China's air defence zone in the East China Sea which has caused significant unease in the region, visiting US Vice-President Joe Biden (above) said here on Thursday, Dec 5, 2
The United States has been "very direct" in voicing its firm objection over China's air defence zone in the East China Sea which has caused significant unease in the region, visiting US Vice-President Joe Biden (above) said here on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - The United States has been "very direct" in voicing its firm objection over China's air defence zone in the East China Sea which has caused significant unease in the region, visiting US vice-president Joe Biden said here on Thursday.

But the US leader also put the controversy in a broader context, acknowledging the rising global stature of the world's second largest economy, during a meeting with American business leaders on Thursday morning.

He believes that as China’s economy grows, its stake in regional security will grow too, because China will have more to lose. “That’s why China will bear increasing responsibility to contribute positively to peace and security," said Mr Biden.

Mr Biden, who had conveyed Washington’s concerns over China's Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in his close-door meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, is expected to have raised the issue when he met with Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday morning though it was absent in their opening remarks.

Both he and Mr Li reaffirmed their commitment to a "straightforward and candid relationship" and touched on the growth of Sino-US relations and its importance to the world, when they met in Beijing’s Zhongnanhai compound, where top Chinese leaders work and live at.

"I can only imagine the progress we can make in the next 35 years if we stay committed to a straightforward and candid relationship that we have developed; and we are committed to developing a new model of great power relations in the 21st century," Mr Biden said. "It is in our power to do that," he added. Both countries will mark 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations, which began on Jan 1, 1979.

Mr Biden and Mr Li also showcased their good rapport in a lighthearted exchange. "It is worrisome that I remember all 35 of those years. I must be getting old," said Mr Biden, who first visited Beijing in 1979, to which Mr Li countered: "You look so young."

Added Mr Biden: "Thank you very much. Will you write a note to my wife and tell her that?"

After his meeting with Mr Li, Mr Biden attended a lunch hosted by Vice-President Li Yuanchao. He leaves for South Korea later in the day.

esthert@sph.com.sg