U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has arrived in Japan to start a three-nation Asia tour at a time of heightened tensions over China’s newly declared air defense zone.
The White House says the trip to Japan, China and South Korea is aimed at reaffirming the U.S. as a Pacific power, promoting American economic interests and showing Washington’s commitment to rebalancing its foreign policy in the region.
Biden will meet in Tokyo on Tuesday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other Japanese officials before leaving for Beijing on Wednesday.
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The White House says the vice president will discuss wide-ranging bilateral issues as well as areas of concern, including regional tensions, during talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials in the Chinese capital.
Last month, China declared an air defense zone in the Pacific over islands claimed by both China and Japan.
China is demanding all planes submit flight plans before crossing the zone. Japan is refusing to comply.
The United States has already flown military jets across the zone ignoring China’s demand, but is recommending U.S. commercial airliners inform the Chinese of their flight plans.
Biden will travel Thursday to South Korea, which has also been angered by China’s bid to establish an air defense zone. He is expected to meet with President Park Geun-Hye and give a policy speech at Yonsei University before returning to Washington Saturday.