The Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, conducted a written interview with Vice President Joe Biden on December 2, 2013, before the vice president's trip to China, Japan, and South Korea. The interview covers China's announcement of its Air Defense Identification Zone, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, defense and cybersecurity alliances, and the Obama administration's "pivot to Asia."
Excerpt from the interview:
Question: With regard to China's recent announcement of setting up its own ADIZ over the East China Sea, the United States responded with strong and immediate criticism by both Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. But the Chinese government responded with counter-criticism, which demanded that the United States "stop making irresponsible comments." What would be the next step of actions that the U.S. government would take? What message do you plan to convey to China, when you visit Beijing after Tokyo?
Answer: We remain deeply concerned by the announcement of a new Air Defense Identification Zone. Secretaries Kerry and Hagel outlined in detail our position on this action in their statements on Nov. 23. I believe this latest incident underscores the need for agreement between China and Japan to establish crisis management and confidence building measures to lower tensions.
During my travel in the region this week, I look forward to speaking to these issues. I will reaffirm the strength of our alliance commitments and emphasize the importance of avoiding actions that could undermine peace, security and prosperity in the region.
Q: Twelve member states of the TPP are all committed to reaching an agreement by the end of this year. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman mentioned that they would not reach a bad deal just to meet the artificial deadline. As we still see many difficult issues left on the table, do you think they can still reach a deal by the end of this year?
A: What I can tell you is that our negotiators are working around the clock, full speed ahead. All countries--including mine--are grappling with sensitive issues. The most important thing is that countries make the tough choices necessary to deliver a successful agreement. Because if we get it right, the Trans-Pacific Partnership can be a force for growth and opportunity in countries representing 40 percent of the world economy. It can be a gold standard for a new model of high-quality trade agreements, one that is helping to set the rules of the road in the 21st century. The Japanese people know this, which is why they overwhelmingly support Japan's membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Q: The U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region was described as "a cornerstone" of the administration's foreign policy in a recent speech by National Security Advisor Susan Rice. But there is an increasingly widely shared view in Japan and the region that the Obama administration may not have enough political capital or the financial assets to implement it as originally planned. There is even a view that the rebalance may end up being just a "bumper sticker." How do you respond to this kind of concern and skepticism?
A: I disagree completely. Yes, some question our staying power. But Japan knows that we have stayed for more than 60 years, providing the security that made possible the region's economic miracle. Economically, diplomatically, militarily, we have been, we are, and we will remain a resident Pacific power. And under President Obama, we have only elevated our engagement.
When a typhoon hits the Philippines, when a triple tragedy strikes Japan, when a tsunami comes ashore in Southeast Asia--each time, Americans are there.
Economically, we are close to concluding a new Trans-Pacific Partnership that will bring together countries representing 40 percent of the world's economic output--modeled on the vision of economic openness and fair competition the United States has championed for decades.
Strategically, we are enhancing and diversifying our force posture.
And the revival of the American economy--from plunging federal deficits to millions of new jobs to massive new supplies of natural gas--ensures that America will have not just the resolve but the resources to exercise leadership in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come.