On December 2, Vice President Joe Biden will head to Asia. The news of the visit comes amid rising tensions between China and Japan regarding sovereignty over a group of small uninhabited islands. The ongoing dispute over the islands, referred to in China as the Diaoyu Islands and in Japan as the Senkaku Islands, recently intensified when China announced the introduction of an air defense zone that covers the islands. According the BBC, the Chinese government has said that any planes within the zone "must obey its rules or face "emergency defensive measures."
Since the introduction of the zone two unarmed American B-52 bombers have flown over the disputed islands. The Chinese defense ministry has said that the planes were monitored.
Commercial Japanese planes defied the rules relating to the newly introduced zone, ignoring Chinese authorities while flying through it.
The BBC has a map outlining the extent of the new Chinese defense zone, shown below (the Chinese Defense Ministry and the EIA are credited):
Yes, the islands that are the cause of all the recent fuss are so small they cannot be seen on the map. Put together, the islands have an area of less than three square miles.
More from Reason.com on China here.