US President Joe Biden is likely to meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping almost “next week,” Reuters reported, citing 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 confirmed that there is “an agreement in principle” for a virtual meeting “before the end of the year.”
“This is part of our ongoing efforts to responsibly manage competition between our countries,” she was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.
The excitement surrounding negotiations between the leaders of the world’s two economic giants comes amid escalating tensions between the two countries over Taiwan.
Washington also expressed concern over reports of a massive expansion of Beijing’s nuclear arsenal.
China is expanding its nuclear forces much faster than US officials predicted just a year ago, according to a Pentagon report released last week. The report says the number of Chinese nuclear warheads could grow to 700 within six years, and could rise to 1,000 by 2030.
The report does not say how many weapons China has today, but a year ago the Pentagon said that number is “at least 200” and is likely to double by the end of this decade. By comparison, the United States has 3,750 nuclear weapons and has no plans to increase them. Back in 2003, their total number in the United States was about 10,000.
Defense officials say they are increasingly wary of China’s intentions over Taiwan’s status.
“The evolving capabilities and concepts of the PLA continue to strengthen (China’s) ability to fight and win wars ‘against a powerful enemy’ – a likely euphemism for the United States,” the report said, adding that this makes China more capable of coercing Taiwan. a self-governing island that China considers to be its territory.