Skip to Content

Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2961

Joe Biden: The Bull in the China Shop

Daya Gamage - Asian Tribune Foreign News Desk
Washington, D.C. 06 December. (

America's vice president Joe Biden during his thirty two years in the Senate and as Obama's right hand man in the White House was and is noted for his gaffes. He went to Beijing, although pre-arranged long before the tensions erupted between Japan and China over a disputed island in East China and the U.S. sending B-52 Bombers to defy Beijing its declared 'defense zone', to aim detente Mr. Biden igniting a media firestorm in Beijing when, in the name of creativity and innovation, he called on young Chinese seeking to visit the United States to “challenge the government, challenge your teachers, challenge religious leaders.”

In fact, the caption of this news item Joe Biden: The Bull in the China Shop is borrowed from an analysis carried in the widely-read Foreign Policy website. And, that's how the analysts of foreign policy felt of Joe Biden's almost 'provocative' remarks on the Chinese soil.

He went on to praise the importance of new immigrants to the United States in reinvigorating “the spirit of America” and reinforced that “stamped in the DNA of every American” is an “inherent rejection of orthodoxy.”

The Foreign Policy Website reports that this past week during his own visit to China, UK Prime Minister David Cameron showered nothing but praise upon his Chinese hosts; in return he earned a scathing editorial in the Global Times and was forced to stand by and watch as one of his journalist countrymen was barred from his press conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The global media and dignitaries who were in Sri Lanka to attend the Commonwealth Summit in mid-November remember Mr. Cameron's rhetoric on media freedom and human rights targeting the host nation.

Now to detente: Joe Biden said on Thursday that China must take steps to reduce tensions in the Asia-Pacific to protect its growing stake in regional peace and stability.

Biden, speaking to about 60 U.S. business leaders in China, expressed alarm over the country’s move to expand military influence in the skies over the East China Sea, and said he discussed the issue during more than four hours of talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“China’s recent and sudden announcement of the establishment of a new air defense identification zone has, to state the obvious, caused significant apprehension in the region,” Biden said. “And I was very direct about our firm position and our expectations in my conversations with President Xi.”

China declared last month that it had established an “air defense identification zone”, or ADIZ, over an area off its southeast coast that includes a group of islands disputed with Japan.

The move provoked anger in the region and prompted the US to defy Beijing by flying two B-52 bombers into the newly-declared zone.

A senior White House official, speaking with reporters in Beijing late Wednesday at the end of the leaders’ day of meetings, reiterated that the US does not recognize China’s move but suggested that it was key Beijing did not take any actions connected to the zone that would escalate tensions in the region.

“We also made clear that not just the United States, but other countries as well are looking at them to take steps to lower tensions, and that includes avoiding enforcement actions that really could lead to a crisis,” said the official, who requested anonymity in order discuss the details of the talks.

Thursday morning, Biden described a “complex” U.S.-China relationship and acknowledged that “we have our differences and they are real”.

“But there’s nothing inevitable about a conflict with China—nothing inevitable about a conflict with China,” he added. “Wholesome competition and strong competition is fundamentally different than conflict.”

From media reports extracted by Asian Tribune, The United States and China are talking about the need for cooperation and dialogue as visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and China's president, Xi Jinping met in the Chinese capital. Among other issues, the two discussed the dispute over China's declaration of an air defense zone over islands administered by Japan. When they met with journalists, though, neither Biden nor Xi brought up the matter.

In a careful diplomatic dance, Xi and Biden talked openly about the challenges the two countries face in building a stronger relationship and trust. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, the two did not specifically mention China's recent, controversial decision to create an air defense identification zone that has loomed over Biden's trip to Asia.

In a brief encounter with reporters before their meeting, Xi spoke about the need for the United States and China, with two of the world's biggest economies, to cooperate and address a growing range of profound and complex challenges.

But Wall Street Journal in its editorial comment December 5 thinks differently; the United States took one step back on the Chinese 'air defense zone' and put the trade talks in the back burner.

The editorial said: 'Neither Mr. Biden nor anyone else in the Obama administration has said straight out that China's new defense zone over Japanese territory that the U.S. is treaty-bound to defend is unacceptable.

Instead the signal to China, at least publicly, is that the U.S. wants to see the zone implemented in a way that will minimize the chance of conflict."

WSJ goes on to say "the risks putting space between the U.S. and Japanese positions that China could interpret as weakness. No one wants conflict, which is precisely why a stronger response is needed now."

America's vice president, as Asian Tribune in a previous report noted, went to China for detente and not to firmly reject the air defense zone. It looks like the United States has taken one step back in the light of China's growing military, political and economic power not only in East Asia but also in the South Asian region.

The question is: Will China's growing power which frustrates America's 'Asia Pivot' help emerging nations in the Asian Region to exhibit their sovereignty, self respect and maintain the United States, which interferes in domestic affairs of the region, at arms-length?

- Asian Tribune –

Chinese President Xi Jinping with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 4, 2013
diconary view
Share this