Vice President Biden will meet separately with the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea on a week-long trip to Asia starting Sunday during which he will convey the Obama administration's concerns over China's recent provocations in the East China Sea, officials said Wednesday.
The vice president's trip comes as the administration hopes to quell doubts among allies and rivals over the U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific region. President Obama canceled his trip to two summits in southeast Asia last month during the partial government shutdown.
Officials said Biden will have high-level, wide-ranging talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his stop in Beijing, but they acknowledged that the vice president is likely to raise objections to China's claim last weekend of control of an "air defense identification zone" over disputed waters between itself and U.S.-ally Japan.
Biden will "have the opportunity to make clear to the Chinese leadership that we have concerns and questions," said a senior administration official during a conference call with reporters. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. "But I think that underlying point here is that the strain caused by the series of actions by China in relations with its Asian neighbors is not a good thing. It's not good for the United States; it's not a good thing for anyone. I think the visit allows the vice president to discuss the issue of how China operates in international space and deals areas of disagreement with neighbors."
In Japan, Biden will meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and also will participate, along with new U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, in an event to highlight the need for increasing the participation of women in Japan's workforce. In Korea, Biden will meet with President Park Geun-hye, deliver a speech on the U.S.-Korea alliance at a university and lay a wreath at a memorial for U.S. soldiers who fought in the Korean War. Biden also will greet U.S. and Korean troops.