The Atlantic’s Steve Clemons has been traveling with Vice President Joseph Biden through Asia this week, and wrote yesterday how the vice president attempted to defuse a crisis between China and Japan in the East China Sea. But along the way, Clemons became part of the story himself. Assigned to be the “pool reporter” covering Biden today, Clemons unwittingly found himself inserted in the vice president’s conversation with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao. Here is Steve’s report in its entirety.
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BEIJING — On Wednesday, fresh off a visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Joe Biden spent five and a half hours in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping over a series of meetings and dinner. The marathon diplomacy capped a delicate effort by the vice president this week to tamp down Japan’s anger over provocative Chinese actions in the East China Sea while not coming down too hard on China.
Tensions have been growing in Asia among a number of key regional players—particularly Japan and China, which have been squaring off over competing sovereignty claims to five tiny, uninhabited islands that the Chinese call the Diaoyu and the Japanese call the Senkaku. Last week, China raised the blood pressure of Japan’s prime minister—and many a commercial airline pilot—by unilaterally imposing an Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, that overlaps with territory Japan and South Korea also claim.
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He took that position after years as a U.S. senator, and taught it during lectures on the separation of powers.
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. It may be tough to tell.