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China stands firm on air defence zone

FM says US vice president told during visit that the decision to set up an air defence zone in East China Sea is legal.

Last updated: 05 Dec 2013 08:50
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Biden reiterated the US stance opposing China's air defence zone in the name of preserving regional stability [Reuters]

China's Foreign Ministry has said that visiting US Vice President Joe Biden was told that Beijing's decision to set up an air defence identification zone in the East China Sea accorded with international law.

"During the talks, the Chinese side repeated its principled position, stressing that the Chinese move accorded with international law and practice and that the US side ought to take an objective and fair attitude and respect it," ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a brief statement on Thursday.

Biden said that China's announcement of an air defence identification zone over the East China Sea had caused apprehension in the region, and that he was clear about the US stance on the move during talks in Beijing.

Biden had around five hours of discussions with President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, with both leaders laying out their perspective on an issue that has rattled countries in East Asia.

"China's recent and sudden announcement of the establishment of a new air defence identification zone has, to state the obvious, caused significant apprehension in the region," Biden told a gathering of US executives in Beijing.

"I was very direct about our firm position and our expectations in my conversations with President Xi."

Regional stakes

Beijing's decision to declare the zone in an area that includes disputed islands with Japan has triggered protests from the US, Japan and South Korea.

Biden said Washington had a profound stake in what happens in the region because it "is a fact" that the US will remain an economic and military power in Asia.

China's stake in regional stability would also continue to grow, he added.

"That's why China will bear increasing responsibility to contribute positively to peace and security. That means taking steps to reduce the risk of accidental conflict and miscalculation ... and refraining from taking steps that would increase tension," Biden said.

Biden will head to South Korea on Thursday.

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