As Biden visits, China pushes back over new air defense zone

Chinese leaders pushed back at visiting Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday over what they assert is their right to control a wide swath of airspace in the bitterly contested East China Sea. But the Chinese also indicated they had not decided how aggressively to enforce their so-called air defense identification zone, which has ignited tensions with Japan…

“The vice president seems to have put them back on track,” said Michael J. Green, an adviser on Asia in the George W. Bush administration. “Beijing may not like, and he probably did not want his trip to be all about this, but he had to send a strong message of dissuasion.”

Mr. Xi’s sanguine words were calculated to send a different message, according to China experts.

“A reason for Xi’s tone is a desire to make U.S. allies, especially Japan, uneasy about U.S. support by suggesting subliminally that the U.S.-China relationship is more important than other relationships, and the U.S. is keeping it sound despite China-Japan relations,” said Jeffrey A. Bader, a former China adviser to President Obama.