US urges China hotline amid air zone tensions
US Vice President Joe Biden makes a speech as he attends a business leader breakfast at a hotel in Beijing on December 5, 2013
Washington does not recognize Beijing's air defense identification zone (ADIZ), which extends over the East China Sea and islands disputed with Japan, and has called on China not to press ahead with its implementation.
"As we work through this process, they need to do a few things right now to immediately lower tensions," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
"China should work with other countries, including Japan and South Korea, to establish confidence-building measures, including emergency communications channels to address the dangers that its recent announcement has created," she added.
Washington has said that its military aircraft in the area will ignore Beijing's demands to file flight plans with Chinese authorities, but has urged commercial airlines to stick by Federal Aviation Administration guidelines to stay safe.
Harf said one of the potential dangers was that because the zone spread into airspace administered by other countries, Beijing had "created a situation in which two different authorities claim to give orders to civilian aircraft, which could potentially create confusion."
It "creates a destabilizing dynamic, which could compel China's neighbors to take further actions to respond," she told reporters.
US Vice President Joe Biden said during a visit to Beijing Thursday that regional peace and stability were in China's interests.
"As China's economy grows, its stake in regional peace and stability will continue to grow as well, because it has so much more to lose," he said.
"That's why China will bear increasing responsibility to contribute positively to peace and security."
Harf said while there was no treaty governing how nations set up such air zones, "there are established practices of states to ensure the safety of civil and state aircraft."
As a regional power, Beijing must seek "to reduce the risk of accidental conflict and miscalculation, to not do things that raise tensions in the region, to act responsibly," she added.
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