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Military expert: Biden’s visit would not affect air defense zone


US Vice President Joe Biden finished his two-day visit to China and left for South Korea, the third stop of his East Asian visit of three countries which also included Japan. Although the current hot issue of air defense identification zone figured in the discussions with Chinese leaders, a military expert told Biden was not here to talk about the issue, and so the visit will not have any effect on China’s new air defense identification zone.

Biden arrived in China on December 4 at the invitation of Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, and held separate meetings with Li Yuanchao and President Xi Jinping. During the meetings, Biden expressed his hope that China and the US could expand cooperation and exchange, and push for a new model of bilateral relations, based on the principles of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

The Biden visit coincides with a diplomatic row between China and Japan over the air defense identification zone, and media in China, Japan and the US have paid close attention to Biden’s position on the problem. Biden had said in Japan that he would propose a “dialogue” between China and Japan over the issue. Some Japanese politicians complained on December 4 that Biden’s attitude is too mild and he “just wants to be a mediator”.

“China’s air defense identification zone would not be affected by Biden’s visit,” a researcher from China’s military who refused to disclose his name told He said that on the one hand, it is not a key issue on the agenda of Biden’s visit, and on the other hand, China has already won recognition of its position considering many foreign airlines have started to report to China for record when passing the zone. If China back tracks on the issue at the moment, even if it is not seen as a diplomatic mistake, the Chinese people will not be able to accept it.

According to the researcher, the political significance of China’s air defense identification zone is greater than its military importance. The move amounts to asserting China’s presence in the disputed land or sea areas between China and Japan. This is a challenge of Japanese jurisdiction.

According to Shen Dingli, the deputy principal of Fudan University’s Institute for International Studies, air defense identification zone is more of a hegemonic concept than an international law issue, because the international law doesn’t recognize it. Over the disputed areas of Diaoyu Island, Japan has exerted its hegemony for over four decades. Now, China has become strong and so it has begun to react to the hegemony. On this issue, the wrestling and confrontation among the three concerned countries would continue for long, and may become more complicated with the rise in China’s power.

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