US President Joe Biden is likely to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping virtually ‘as soon as next week’, news agency Reuters reported quoting sources. However, neither the White House nor the Chinese embassy in Washington have confirmed whether the meeting will take place.
Earlier this week, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated that there’s “an agreement in principle” for a virtual meeting “before the end of the year”.
“This is part of our ongoing efforts to responsibly manage the competition between our countries,” Bloomberg quoted her, as saying.
The buzz over talks between leaders of world’s two economic giants comes amid heightened tension between the two nations over Taiwan.
Washington has also expressed concerns over Beijing’s reported massive expansion of nuclear arsenal.
As per a Pentagon report released last week, China is expanding its nuclear force much faster than US officials predicted just a year ago. The number of Chinese nuclear warheads could increase to 700 within six years, the report said, and may top 1,000 by 2030.
The report did not say how many weapons China has today, but a year ago the Pentagon said the number was in the “low 200s” and was likely to double by the end of this decade. The United States, by comparison, has 3,750 nuclear weapons and has no plans to increase. As recently as 2003 the US total was about 10,000.
US defence officials have said they are increasingly wary of China’s intentions with regard to the status of Taiwan.
“The PLA’s evolving capabilities and concepts continue to strengthen (China’s) ability to fight and win wars’ against a strong enemy’ — a likely euphemism for the United States,” the report said, adding that it makes China more capable of coercing Taiwan, the self-ruled island that China claims as its territory.