As China and Japan dispute territory, the stakes for Vice President Biden's trip to China on Wednesday and his scheduled meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping have gotten considerably higher. Following China's establishment of an air defense zone also over islands in the East China Sea also claimed by Japan, the veep must now defuse tensions between the two countries in addition to his already planned economic goals.

In a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday, Biden said that, "We in the U.S. are deeply concerned by the attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea." The new airspace regulations require both civilian and military aircraft to register before entering.

In addition to the contested island in the East China Sea, tChina has also deployed an aircraft carrier to the South China Sea and begun claiming ownership of thousands of shipwrecks.

According to the Associated Press, "although the U.S. has repeatedly said it rejects the zone, Biden has avoided calling publicly for Beijing to retract it, wary of making demands that China is likely to snub." It is instead hoping that China's regulation of the area is lax.

Biden was last in China to meet with Xi Jinping two years ago.