Vice President Joe Biden faces a very delicate task this week as he makes a diplomatic visit to East Asia in hopes of turning down the volume on an increasingly noisy territorial tug of war.
The long-planned trip, which was originally to focus on economic issues, comes as tensions in East Asia are on the rise.
Biden's first stop was Tokyo, where longtime ally Japan and the United States are pushing back against China's recent declaration of a restricted flight zone over parts of the East China Sea that include some islands claimed by both China and Japan.
In Beijing meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping today, "Biden will have to walk a tight rope in pressuring the Chinese to dial back some of the rhetoric but also can't push too far," reports CNN's David McKenzie. "It's unlikely they'll go away from this zone..."
In a meeting on Tuesday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Biden said the United States was "deeply concerned by the attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea."
Biden reaffirmed that "the United States looks to our alliance with Japan as the cornerstone of stability and security in East Asia, and we are fully committed to our announced strategy of rebalancing as well in the Pacific," according to a White House transcript of the meeting.
And in an interview with the Ashai daily newspaper, Biden rejected concerns that the United States may not have staying power in the region, saying "economically, diplomatically, militarily, we have been, we are, and we will remain a resident Pacific power."