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 7:34 PM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 8:00 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
Washington5595139
Pearl River5196152
Bolivar4954134
Oktibbeha494398
Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
Pontotoc447773
Union433279
Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
Adams340988
Yazoo339376
Copiah324968
Simpson322891
Itawamba314680
Coahoma314085
Tippah306568
Prentiss298863
Covington293484
Leake285475
Marion284181
Wayne277543
George272251
Grenada269488
Newton262364
Tishomingo239770
Winston236784
Jasper230648
Stone229637
Attala226373
Chickasaw219060
Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 587405

Reported Deaths: 11536
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson853851591
Mobile48932864
Madison37517533
Shelby27280257
Tuscaloosa27171465
Montgomery26172627
Baldwin25399329
Lee17224181
Calhoun15401334
Morgan15170291
Etowah14954370
Marshall13116235
Houston12077293
Elmore10915219
St. Clair10763252
Limestone10725158
Cullman10546205
Lauderdale10255254
DeKalb9508192
Talladega8949188
Walker7793288
Autauga7563114
Jackson7400117
Blount7362139
Colbert6703142
Coffee6365132
Dale5650117
Russell480243
Chilton4771117
Covington4749125
Franklin458181
Tallapoosa4519156
Escambia441383
Chambers3949125
Dallas3743163
Clarke371263
Marion3463107
Pike332579
Lawrence3263100
Winston298773
Bibb290465
Geneva283983
Marengo262467
Barbour250961
Pickens245562
Butler240872
Hale235578
Fayette227065
Henry213945
Monroe202141
Randolph201144
Cherokee199248
Washington185239
Macon170552
Crenshaw168358
Clay166259
Cleburne161345
Lamar151038
Lowndes145455
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh121332
Coosa118329
Perry110528
Sumter110333
Greene99137
Choctaw64425
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Mostly Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 84°
Columbus
Mostly Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 78°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 81°
Starkville
Mostly Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 78°
The heat wave that controlled our area over the past several days is now behind us. The forecast for the next week looks a bit cooler & less humid.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather