Biden: US-China ties must go through Tokyo

Biden: US-China ties must go through Tokyo

Three days before US President Barack Obama is set to meet Prime Minister Naoto Kan in New York, Biden stressed the fundamental nature of relations with Japan in US Asia-Pacific policy.

"There is an emerging relationship that we have to get right between the United States and China... frankly, I don't know how that relationship can be made right other than going through Tokyo," Biden said.

"I don't know how it works without our partner in that part of the world."

Biden told the US-Japan Council's annual conference here that Tokyo was crucial to solving the crisis on the Korean peninsula, other regional security issues and social and political challenges.

"It seems to be that we sometimes of late have been too quick to focus on one relationship which is critically important," he said, referring to China, though arguing that Obama's outreach to Beijing had been making progress.

At the same time, Biden said the American people also had to understand that relations with Japan were the "linchpin" of what Washington could get done in the region.

Earlier today, Japan said it regretted China's decision to suspend high-level exchanges over Tokyo's arrest of a Chinese boat captain in disputed waters, urging Beijing not to let the spat ruin their relationship.

Beijing yesterday had threatened Japan with "strong counter-measures" after Japan extended the detention of the boat captain accused of intentionally ramming his trawler into two Japanese patrol vessels in the East China Sea.

The incident near an island chain claimed by both countries as well as Taiwan -- an area with rich fishing grounds as well as possible oil and gas deposits -- has sparked the worst row between the Asian neighbours in years.

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