A planned sit-down between the U.S. and China set for next month could be scrapped amid an increasingly fraught relationship between the two countries.
Reuters reported Saturday that sources close to the matter cast the meeting in doubt, “because of the turbulence in the relationship.”
Though no final decisions have been made, China’s Defense Ministry said it was discussing talks with the U.S., but offered no further details.
“China and the United States have all along maintained communication about the diplomatic and security dialogue,” the ministry said in a statement to Reuters.
The country’s Foreign Ministry told the outlet that China and the U.S. were in “close contact” about such talks, but also declined to elaborate.
The State Department and U.S. Embassy in Beijing declined to comment to Reuters, as did the Pentagon, which said it does not discuss travel plans.
Sources told Reuters that Chinese officials were incensed this week after President Trump accused China, without evidence, of election interference.
“Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election,” Trump said during a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York. “They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi later denied the president’s assertions.
“We did not and will not interfere in any country’s domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China,” Wang said through a translator.
Speaking before the United Nations on Friday, Wang said there was “no cause for panic” over discord between the two economic powerhouses. Still, he warned, Beijing would not “be blackmailed or yield to pressure” over trade, Reuters reported.
The potential cancelation of a key diplomatic meeting comes as the U.S. and China continue to levy steep tariffs against each other in an escalating trade war.
Chinese officials announced Sept. 22 that the country was canceling planned trade talks with the U.S. amid rising trade tensions between the two countries. According to officials, the move signified that China was keeping its promise to avoid negotiations under pressure.
Trump this month directed his administration to levy tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, adding to the $50 billion already subject to tariffs. China, in turn, slapped retaliatory tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of American goods.