By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden left Sunday for Northeast Asia on a trip expected to focus on easing regional military tensions heightened by Beijing's declaration of its new air zone to include disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Biden plans to arrive in Tokyo on Monday (local time) and head to Beijing on Wednesday, followed by a three-day stay in Seoul.
"Clearly, the visit to China creates an opportunity for the vice president to discuss directly with policymakers in Beijing this issue to convey our concerns directly and to seek clarity regarding the Chinese intentions in making this move at this time," a senior Obama administration official said earlier on background.
China announced its new air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea late last month, a move apparently aimed at reinforcing its claim to the Senkaku (Dioyutai) islets that are controlled by Japan.
The zone overlaps with the existing ADIZs of South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, drawing strong backlash from these countries.
Biden is expected to raise the issue in bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
On visits to South Korea and Japan, Biden will assure the allies of Washington's security commitment, said the official.
The Center For Strategic