BEIJING -- President Obama arrived Wednesday morning in Japan for the next leg of his Asia tour. Air Force One touched down after traveling from Vietnam, where the president announced a new arms deal -- a move that stoked already-high tensions in the region.
CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz in Beijing says the president's trip comes amid an increasingly frosty standoff between the U.S., its Asian allies and Beijing over the South China Sea.
"Big nations should not bully smaller ones," President Obama said to applause in Vietnam. "Disputes should be resolved peacefully."
Six Asian countries, including Vietnam, have territorial claims in the sea, which is home to vital shipping lanes and natural resources. But China claims nearly all of it, and has spent a lot of time and money in recent years turning reefs and shoals into islands -- some now complete with runways, tennis courts, and military capability.
More than 3,200 acres of land have been added to the Chinese-built islands since 2013.
To show its displeasure, the U.S. has increased patrols in and over the sea -- some of them sailing close to the Chinese islands -- and Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited a U.S. warship there just last month.
When Mr. Obama lifted the 41-year-old arms embargo on Vietnam this week, he said China wasn't part of his calculation. The Chinese aren't buying that.
"Obama claimed that this move is not aimed at China, yet this is only a very poor lie," said an editorial in a state-backed Chinese newspaper, accusing the U.S. of "taking advantage of Vietnam to stir up more trouble in the South China Sea."
Stories about China's proclaimed territorial rights to the waters have flooded Chinese state television, but on the streets of Beijing, most residents are keen to avoid any discussion of politics and diplomacy with a foreign television crew.
But CBS News did find one retiree, Cui Jiyong, who had no qualms about making his views known.
"The U.S. says these are international waters and not China's," Diaz said to him.
"The U.S. is on the other side of the Pacific," he replied. "We don't go there, but they come here to meddle in our matters."