Strain Over Security Zone Evident In Biden Talks04:57
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Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, right, and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, left, review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. (Lintao Zhang/AP)
Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, right, and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, left, review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. (Lintao Zhang/AP)

In a sharp rebuff, China accused Washington on Wednesday of taking Japan's side in a tense clash over disputed islands in the East China Sea, underscoring rising regional friction as visiting Vice President Joe Biden met with Beijing's leaders.

Emerging from a private meeting with President Xi Jinping that went considerably longer than scheduled, Biden appeared somber and subdued. In a brief appearance before reporters in which he took no questions, Biden did not go into details on differences over China's newly declared restricted flying zone. Instead, he spoke of a "new model of major country cooperation," saying U.S.-China relations must hinge on trust and a positive notion of each other's motives.

The awkward kickoff for a series of official meetings in Beijing followed Biden's speech earlier Wednesday urging young Chinese citizens to challenge orthodoxy and the status quo. The vice president drew an implicit contrast between the authoritarian rule of China's government and the liberal, permissive intellectual culture he described in the United States.

Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson speaks to NPR's Anthony Kuhn.

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This segment aired on December 4, 2013.

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