Jeff Sessions on China: Enough is enough

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is stepping up efforts to target China over economic espionage, simultaneously announcing a new initiative to combat trade theft.

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 8:52 PM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 9:00 PM

President Donald Trump says his trade negotiations with China are going swimmingly, but his chief economic adviser says they're nowhere close to a deal.

Over the past 24 hours, the White House has sent a flurry of mixed messages about the status of trade talks with Beijing amid an ongoing tit-for-tat that started with Trump's decision to tax billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports.

Trump has teased a victory in the trade war ahead of next week's crucial midterm elections, claiming that Chinese President Xi Jinping is eager to make a deal at their expected meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit of global leaders in Argentina later this month.

"We've had very good discussions with China. We are much closer to doing something. They want to make a deal," Trump said Friday outside the White House.

A Bloomberg report overnight that the administration was already drafting terms sent global stocks higher early Friday -- but then National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow went on television to knock it down, telling CNBC "there's no massive movement to deal with China."

The US administration has offered to host a dinner in Argentina with Xi, US officials told CNN this week. But they also said a trade deal with China is still far off and that existing administration tensions over China have not eased. They are not at a place yet to start formally drafting a trade deal.

The administration has taken a tough stance with China over the past two months. Trump escalated the trade war in September by slapping tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, on top of an earlier $50 billion round. The move drew complaints from US importers who will have to pay more for consumer goods ranging from luggage to hats to spices. The administration has also this week targeted Chinese companies over attempts to steal trade secrets.

As recently as Monday, Trump has suggested China wasn't ready to come to an agreement. "I'd like to make a deal right now, I just say they're not ready," he told Fox News.

But after the President spoke with Xi by phone on Thursday, he tweeted that "discussions are moving along nicely" -- and said meetings are already being planned for the G20. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs echoed his positive tone in a Friday briefing with reporters.

Here's a quick time line of what the President and senior officials have said:

  • Thursday morning: Trump says on Twitter that he just had a "long and very good conversation" with Xi and that "discussions are moving along nicely."
  • Midday Thursday: Kudlow tells reporters in the White House driveway that there may be a "thaw" between the United States and China on trade. But he also dinged Beijing, crowing that the US economy is doing better than the rival superpower's: "From our view, we're booming. China's not."
  • Later Thursday afternoon: Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces charges against a Chinese company for stealing trade secrets, as well as a new initiative to combat economic espionage.
  • Thursday night: At a rally in Missouri, Trump remains optimistic, saying that the Chinese "want to make a deal." "Lots of great things are going to happen over the next short period of time," he said. "It's going to work out good."
  • Overnight: Bloomberg news reports that Trump has asked key US officials to begin drafting potential terms of a deal. The report sends stocks higher.
  • Friday morning: A White House official walks back the Bloomberg report, telling CNBC that there is a long way to go before reaching an agreement. US stocks turned negative.
  • Friday afternoon: Kudlow, speaking on CNBC, says the administration is doing "normal, routine preparation for the upcoming meeting between Trump and Xi. "We are not on the cusp of a deal," he said, but did note there were "good vibes" from the phone call on Thursday.
  • Later Friday afternoon: Trump reiterated how well he thought his recent conversation with Xi went. "A lot of progress has been made," he told reporters outside the White House.

The Trump administration wants the Chinese to address what it says are unfair trade practices, including intellectual property theft. Trump also argues that the trade imbalance between the two countries hurts the United States.

Many American manufacturers, farmers and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say they appreciate the administration's efforts to change China's trade policies. But some argue the tariffs are not the best way to address the issues. Tariffs pose a dilemma to US importers who must decide whether to absorb the higher cost of the goods, or pass it on to consumers and some exporters are hurting from China's retaliatory tariffs.

West Lafayette
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 74°
Kokomo
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 72°
Rensselaer
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 72°
Fowler
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 74°
Williamsport
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 75°
Crawfordsville
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 73°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 73°
Delphi
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 75°
Monticello
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 75°
Logansport
Clear
° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: °
A sunny and mild Thursday on tap!
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 918230

Reported Deaths: 15011
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1252491952
Lake623371084
Allen52301746
Hamilton43009443
St. Joseph41155584
Elkhart32831485
Vanderburgh29698436
Tippecanoe26442247
Johnson23106414
Hendricks21708338
Porter21255340
Clark16988222
Madison16899378
Vigo15562272
Monroe14186190
LaPorte13961235
Delaware13613215
Howard13531258
Kosciusko11150134
Hancock10534159
Warrick10431174
Bartholomew10233166
Floyd10099202
Wayne9557216
Grant8858194
Morgan8654158
Boone8231109
Dubois7521123
Henry7391126
Dearborn734186
Noble7208100
Marshall7168127
Cass7060117
Lawrence6803150
Jackson638980
Shelby6386106
Gibson5999105
Harrison587984
Huntington586490
Montgomery5663101
DeKalb555691
Knox532999
Miami523183
Clinton522464
Putnam519067
Whitley509851
Steuben480267
Wabash470192
Jasper465760
Jefferson456091
Ripley439074
Adams435565
Daviess4008106
Scott389563
White383457
Decatur376895
Clay376455
Greene375589
Wells375183
Fayette363074
Posey351841
Jennings341756
Washington324046
LaGrange312074
Spencer310734
Fountain306553
Randolph302087
Sullivan294947
Owen275961
Orange269659
Starke268961
Fulton264451
Jay248134
Perry244950
Carroll239926
Franklin229337
Vermillion225850
Rush225530
Parke212020
Tipton205354
Pike200938
Blackford163834
Pulaski155250
Crawford140818
Benton138316
Newton138141
Brown130646
Martin124416
Switzerland122310
Warren112616
Union92211
Ohio75811
Unassigned0461

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events