Facts for Bi­den’s ref­er­ence

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - EDITORIALS

US VICE-PRES­I­DENT JOE BI­DEN WAS COR­RECT when he said in Tokyo on Tues­day, there is “the need for cri­sis man­age­ment mech­a­nisms” for the East China Sea Air De­fense Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Zone, be­cause, as he pointed out, “the prospect for mis­cal­cu­la­tion and mis­take is too high”.

So he has plenty of things to straighten out while he is in Bei­jing, on the sec­ond leg of his three-coun­try Asia trip.

First of all, de­spite try­ing to present the im­age of be­ing an im­par­tial me­di­a­tor, Wash­ing­ton has ob­vi­ously taken Ja­pan’s side. Turn­ing a blind eye to Tokyo’s provo­ca­tions, the root cause of the ten­sions, the United States is wrongly point­ing an ac­cus­ing fin­ger at China for “uni­lat­er­ally” chang­ing the “sta­tus quo” in the East China Sea.

Bi­den, with his diplo­matic record, is be­lieved to be Wash­ing­ton’s best bet as a cri­sis-de­fuser, but he should not ex­pect any sub­stan­tial head­way if he comes sim­ply to re­peat his gov­ern­ment’s pre­vi­ous er­ro­neous and one-sided re­marks.

He should lis­ten care­fully to the Chi­nese side of the story, and our lead­ers should make sure their Amer­i­can guest leaves Bei­jing bet­ter in­formed about the causal­ity of the East China Sea dis­pute.

Again, our timely vis­i­tor needs to be told: It is Ja­pan that has uni­lat­er­ally changed the sta­tus quo. From its reg­u­lar pa­trols of the Diaoyu Is­lands to the es­tab­lish­ment of its new ADIZ, China is just re­spond­ing to Ja­panese provo­ca­tions.

If the US is truly com­mit­ted to low­er­ing ten­sions in the re­gion, it must first stop ac­qui­esc­ing to Tokyo’s dan­ger­ous brinkman­ship. It must stop em­bold­en­ing bel­liger­ent Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe to con­stantly push the en­ve­lope of Ja­pan’s en­croach­ments and provo­ca­tions.

Most im­por­tant of all, Bi­den needs to be re­minded that Ja­pan holds the key to peace­fully solv­ing the East China Sea dis­pute, be­cause it is the Abe ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­cal­ci­trant de­nial of the ex­is­tence of a dis­pute that has pre­vented Bei­jing and Tokyo from con­duct­ing mean­ing­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion and cri­sis con­trol. From the very be­gin­ning, Bei­jing has demon­strated a con­sis­tent pref­er­ence for shelv­ing dif­fer­ences.

Con­trary to the Ja­panese and US al­le­ga­tions, our ADIZ was ac­tu­ally in­tended to re­duce mis­judg­ments and avoid pos­si­ble con­flicts, and the so-called threats to civil­ian flights are just Abe’s crazy hyper­bole aimed at de­flect­ing blame.

In­stead of echo­ing Ja­pan’s il­licit re­quest that we re­scind the ADIZ, Bi­den should try to en­lighten the Ja­panese that it can ac­tu­ally be­come what our De­fense Min­istry en­vis­ages: “a zone of co­op­er­a­tion, not con­fronta­tion”.

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