|President Xi Jinping meets US Vice-President Joe Biden in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. Lan Hongguang / Xinhua|
Xi urges US to respect China's core interests, properly handle differences
Strengthening dialogue and cooperation is the "correct choice" for China and the United States, President Xi Jinping told visiting US Vice-President Joe Biden on Wednesday.
He also urged the US to respect China's core interests.
Xi made the remarks amid rising tension in East Asia, triggered by competing territorial claims by China and Japan.
Japan's reaction to China's newly announced air defense identification zone was reported to be high on Biden's agenda.
"Both sides should keep the bilateral relationship going in the right direction, respect each other's core interests and major concerns, actively expand practical cooperation, and properly handle sensitive issues and differences," Xi told Biden at the meeting.
He reiterated China's stance on the air zone.
Washington is willing to manage differences with Beijing in a constructive manner and avoid letting them affect bilateral ties, Biden was quoted in a Foreign Ministry news release as saying.
Biden said he believed Xi is a candid and constructive person.
"In developing this new relationship, both qualities are sorely needed," Biden said during the meeting.
"Candor generates trust," he said, adding that the US-China relationship must be "based on trust and a positive notion of each other's motives".
Biden and Xi have built good personal relations. During Biden's trip to China two years ago, Xi, then vice-president, accompanied him on a trip outside Beijing. Biden also accompanied Xi on his US trip in February 2012.
On Wednesday, Xi led high-ranking officials to meet Biden, and their talks lasted much longer than scheduled.
The air zone covers China's Diaoyu Islands, on which Japan also claims sovereignty. Japan and many other countries including the US established such air zones of their own decades ago.
Beijing has repeatedly said it is Japan that first changed the status quo in the region by "nationalizing" the Diaoyu Islands last year.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Wednesday that China has maintained communication with the US over the air zone issue.
He said Beijing has briefed Washington on the legitimacy, openness and defensive nature of the air zone and expects understanding, respect and coordination from the US.
On Tuesday in Tokyo, Biden called on Japan and China to find ways to reduce tensions, saying Washington was "deeply concerned" by the announcement of the zone.
He pledged to raise the issue directly when he met Xi.
However, Biden did not follow Japan by publicly calling for Beijing to retract the zone, or agree to issue a joint statement on this issue.
After Japan requested its airlines not to follow China's new air zone rules, the US government advised its airlines to notify Chinese authorities of flight plans to avoid misunderstanding.
Jin Canrong, a professor of international studies at Renmin University of China, said that Japan cannot be fully satisfied by Biden's assurance of support on Tuesday.
Japan's online media leader, the Nikkei Online Edition, said on Wednesday that "the Japanese government wants to contain China through cooperation with the US. ... But the US government believes that excessive partiality on Japan will draw opposition from China."
Tao Wenzhao, a senior research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Biden has tried to positively guide the impasse between China and Japan by highlighting the need for crisis management mechanisms between the two neighbors.
Jia Xiudong, a senior researcher of international affairs at the China Institute of International Studies, said: "Washington should not hold double standards for China and Japan on this issue. It is supposed to play a constructive role in reducing the tensions rather than fueling them."
Biden told Xi that Washington is greatly impressed by the decisions made during the Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held in early November.
China's development is fully in the interests of US, he said.
The possibilities are endless if the US and China can get their relationship right, he said.
Later in the day, Xi held a banquet in Biden's honor.
Biden will have breakfast with US business leaders and meet Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday before leaving for Seoul.
Mo Jingxi contributed to this story.