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FirstFT: US and China to discuss nuclear arsenals


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Joe Biden and Xi Jinping have agreed to hold talks aimed at reducing tensions, as US anxiety grows at China’s expanding nuclear arsenal and its recent test of a hypersonic weapon.

Jake Sullivan, US national security adviser, said the US and Chinese presidents had discussed the need for nuclear “strategic stability” talks in their virtual meeting on Monday. China has previously refused to hold nuclear talks, partly because the US has a much larger weapons arsenal.

“The two leaders agreed that we would look to begin to carry forward discussions on strategic stability,” Sullivan told an audience at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

The two sides did not decide on a format for the talks and the US wants to see if China will follow through on the pledge from Xi. The Chinese Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During yesterday’s talk, Biden and Xi also held extensive discussions about Taiwan, but failed to establish any “guardrails” to ensure that tensions over the island do not escalate into a dangerous conflict.

How do you think the US and China can best improve relations? Tell me what you think at firstft@ft.com. Thank you for reading FirstFT Asia. Here’s the rest of today’s news — Emily

1. Bill Gross says investors living in ‘dreamland’ Investors are living in a “dreamland” brought on by global central banks’ decision to continue pumping up the world economy even as it has rebounded sharply from the pandemic, the founder of bond investment group Pimco told the Financial Times in an interview.

2. Start-up electric vehicle makers surpass incumbents The electric vehicle company Rivian overtook Volkswagen in market value today, while rival start-up Lucid surpassed Ford, as shares in their largely unproven businesses continued to soar following their recent stock market listings.

3. JPMorgan sues Tesla over Musk’s ‘funding secured’ tweet The US bank has sued Tesla for $162m, alleging that the automaker failed to make a required payment that was triggered after chief executive Elon Musk’s 2018 announcement that he was considering taking the company private.

Elon Musk
The lawsuit is just the latest fallout from Elon Musk’s tweet in 2018 in which he said he was considering taking Tesla private © Samuel Corum/Bloomberg

4. UK launches national security probe of Nvidia’s Arm deal The British government has launched an in-depth investigation into US chipmaker Nvidia’s takeover of the UK-based technology company Arm on national security grounds, throwing another hurdle in the path of the $54bn deal.

5. Germany suspends certification of Nord Stream 2 pipeline The German regulator said it “temporarily suspended” certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, dealing a setback to the Kremlin-backed gas project and sparking a rise in UK and continental European gas prices.

Coronavirus digest

  • Cathay Pacific is considering asking pilots to live outside of Hong Kong for several months because of the city’s strict Covid-19 quarantine policy.

  • Australian central bank governor Philip Lowe said national price pressures were lower than the US and the UK — a sign that price increases in some economies are because of Covid-19, rather than a global shift towards high inflation.

  • Pfizer has followed its rival Merck and agreed a licensing deal to expand low-cost access to its Covid-19 antiviral pill throughout the developing world. It is also seeking US authorisation for the pill.

  • The patchy return of scheduled flights is diverting record numbers of wealthy travellers to private jets.

Sign up to the Road to Recovery newsletter, for an essential guide to business and the economy in a world transformed by the pandemic.

The day ahead

Australia trading update The Commonwealth Bank of Australia reports its first-quarter trading update today.

Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution Czech Republic and Slovakia will mark the 32nd anniversary of what is seen widely as a turning point leading to the collapse of communist regimes in eastern Europe.

Vatican corruption trial A landmark Vatican alleged-corruption trial resumes today. The case revolves around the purchase by the Holy See’s secretariat of state of a commercial and residential building in London’s South Kensington. Watch this video to get up to speed.

What else we’re reading and watching

Investors pivot to India Long a promising but second choice Asian market for investors, India has emerged as a leading beneficiary of China’s crackdown on technology companies, fuelling a private- and public-market bull run in the country. But is its start-up sector already overheated?

Chart showing growth in investment in India's tech sector outstripping China

Iraqi women displaced by Isis find new freedoms Traditionally one of Iraq’s more conservative areas, and dogged by violent Islamist militancy since the US-led invasion of 2003, society in tribal and predominantly Sunni Anbar is undergoing some subtle but significant changes.

China’s green investments challenge China needs to unleash $6.5tn in green investments and radically reorganise its economy if the planet is to win the fight against climate change, analysts say. The warning comes after hopes that governments would commit to bolder decarbonisation targets at COP26 were dashed by India and China watering down pledges to end coal-fired power.

Don’t believe the deglobalisation narrative When Covid-19 hit, many wrote an obituary for China-focused globalisation. But there is little evidence that the pandemic has led companies to abandon the country en masse. Why hasn’t deglobalisation taken hold, asks senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School Megan Greene.

Cryptocurrencies: how regulators lost control How did regulators lose control of the $2tn crypto market and can they get a grip now? Industry voices — including Binance chief executive “CZ” and Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX — address the question in this FT film.

Books

A guide to Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Beijing’s pursuit of international primacy and Alexei Navalny’s extraordinary courage are some of the subjects covered in Gideon Rachman’s list of the year’s best books on politics. And don’t forget you can suggest your favourite reads of the year at the bottom of this story.

Thank you for reading and remember you can add FirstFT to myFT. Send your recommendations and feedback to firstft@ft.com

Britain after Brexit — Keep up to date with the latest developments as the UK economy adjusts to life outside the EU. Sign up here

The Week Ahead — Start every week with a preview of what’s on the agenda. Sign up here



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