Biden will raise US concerns on new China air-defense zone during Asia trip

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Vice President Biden will directly raise concerns over China's new air-defense zone with officials in Beijing during his trip to the region, the White House said Monday.

"This is an opportunity for Vice President Biden to raise our concerns directly with policymakers in Beijing and to seek clarity regarding the Chinese intentions in making this move at this time," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

"It is also an opportunity to confer with our allies Japan and the Republic of Korea, both of whom are directly affected by China's actions."

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Biden is on a week-long trip to Japan, China and South Korea.

Late last month, China declared a disputed area off its coast an “Air Defense Identification Zone" and asked to be notified of any air travel through the region.

The U.S. State Department has not recognized the zone, and the U.S. subsequently flew two warplanes over the area without first informing the Chinese.

But the government has also advised U.S. carriers to comply with the Chinese rules and register flights through the areas.

Carney said that during his trip, Biden would "underscore how important it is to avoid actions that raise tensions and to prevent miscalculations that could undermine peace, security and prosperity in the region."

Biden landed Monday in Tokyo, where government officials have told its airlines not to comply with the new demands. Biden is scheduled to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who will likely seek assurances that the U.S. will aid the country in disputing the air zone.

Carney also hinted, but did not confirm, that Biden would push for the release of Merrill Newman and Kenneth Bae, two Americans being held in North Korea. Biden is slated to tour the demilitarized zone on the North Korea-South Korea border.

"We are deeply concerned about the welfare of the U.S. citizens held in custody in the DPRK," Carney said.