World News Brief, Thursday December 5

Joe Biden meets with Xi Jingping in effort to ease tensions between China and US; Thai protestors support former deputy PM; UN considers sending forces to Central African Republic; Vatican refuses to cooperate with sex abuse probe; and more 

Top of the Agenda: Biden Meets Xi as Air Defense Row Continues

U.S. vice president Joe Biden told Chinese president Xi Jinping at a meeting in Beijing that relations between both countries should be based on trust, as tension in the region continues over China's new air defense zone over disputed islands with Japan (Reuters). Biden also met with Chinese citizens waiting to get visitor visas to the United States, and urged young students to challenge their government, teachers, and religious leaders (SCMP). Analysts say that China's establishment of control over airspace in the western Pacific is part of a larger effort to build the country into a maritime power (Bloomberg).


"Risking a conflict makes no sense for China. The mutual gains from rising trade and economic interdependence are orders of magnitude greater and, one would have thought, more persuasive than those from marginal territorial gains offshore. In the same way, no gain could justify the disaster of the first world war. Yet history, alas, also teaches us that frictions between status quo and revisionist powers may well lead to conflict, however ruinous the consequences," writes Martin Wolf in the Financial Times.

"Japan's air force and navy are too strong for China to attempt a similar grab of the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands anytime soon. But Hanoi, Manila, Taipei, and Tokyo all sense that, in the Scarborough Shoal, Beijing 'killed the chicken to scare the monkey,' as officials from those governments say. Most observers would agree that China has every intention of following the same strategy against Japan, just in slow motion. Although the smaller powers have remained quiet about the announcement of a new Chinese defense zone, most are privately urging Japan not to back down," writes Michael Green in Foreign Affairs.

"Biden needs to be reminded that Japan holds the key to peacefully solving the East China Sea dispute, because it is the Abe administration's recalcitrant denial of the existence of a dispute that has prevented Beijing and Tokyo from conducting meaningful communication and crisis control. From the very beginning, Beijing has demonstrated a consistent preference for shelving differences," China Daily writes in an editorial.


Thai Protestors Embrace Controversial Leader

Former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban has taken the lead of street protests aimed at overthrowing Thailand's government. While he has won praise from some in the opposition movement, others say his past has included violence and corruption (France24).


UN considers sending forces to Central African Republic

Vatican refuses to cooperate with sex abuse probe

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