As U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden arrived in Beijing to press China to rollback its unilaterally declared air defence zone, China on Wednesday defended the move, saying it is in accord with international laws and practises and will not affect normal flights.
“China has gained understanding from an increasing number of countries over the establishment of the zone. People have come to realise it is a safe and cooperative, rather than risky and confrontational area,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.
Mr. Hong said that 55 airlines from 19 countries have reported their flight plans to fly through its Air Defence Identification Zone over the East China Sea.
Mr. Hong’s comment came after Mr. Biden arrived in Beijing on Wednesday after meeting Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
At a joint press conference with Mr. Abe on Tuesday, Mr. Biden said he would raise Washington’s concerns over the air zone “in great specificity… when I meet with the Chinese leadership”.
Mr. Biden expressed America’s deep concern over “attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea”.
“This action has raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation. We are closely consulting with our allies on this matter here in Japan and in Korea which I will soon visit, later this week,” he said.
China has accused the U.S. and Japan — which both have ADIZs — of double standards, saying the real provocateur is Tokyo.
“This is a hugely consequential relationship that is going to affect the course of the 21st century,” Mr. Biden said after being welcomed by his counterpart Li Yuanchao.
Their ties will become the “central, sort of, organising principle in international relations for a long time”, the U.S. Vice-President said.
“Like all complex relationships, it calls for sustained, high-level engagement,” Mr. Biden said, adding he believed President Xi was committed “to managing our differences candidly and constructively”.