- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer praised President Donald Trump’s tough talk on China.
- Schumer also said Trump should “stay strong” and not agree to a quick deal that does not come with larger reforms.
- In taking a tough stance, Schumer is siding with some of the more hawkish members of the Trump administration.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer doesn’t agree with President Donald Trump on much. But the Democratic leader says he’s standing in line with the president when it comes to the trade fight with China.
Following news of an initial agreement with China to reduce trade tensions, Schumer appeared to take a hard line and urged Trump to avoid backing down on his tough talk.
“As I’ve always said, when it comes to being tough on China’s trading practices, I’m closer to Trump than Obama or Bush,” Schumer said. “But the president and his team have to stick with it, be strong, and not sell out for a temporary purchase of goods without addressing the real issue: the theft of American intellectual property which will cost us millions of American jobs in the long run.”
The Trump administration announced the outline of a deal with China on Saturday at the conclusion of another round of talks in Washington, DC. Details have been sparse, but the deal would suspend Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods while China promised to increase purchases of US agricultural and energy goods.
While many pro-free trade economists praised a deal that reduced simmering tensions, more hardline Trump supporters expressed concern that he was backing down from the China fight.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin touted the deal as a sign of significant progress. But more protectionist administration officials like US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer offered qualified statements on the deal.
“Getting China to open its market to more US exports is significant, but the far more important issues revolve around forced technology transfers, cyber theft and the protection of our innovation,” Lighthizer said in a statement Sunday.
The more protectionist wing of the Trump administration wants China to open up its market to more US companies without forcing firms to enter into joint ventures in the country. They also want China to stop unfairly boosting domestic companies at the expense of US businesses.
Dan DiMicco, the former CEO of steel giant Nucor and a trade adviser to Trump during the 2016 campaign, was even more severe in his assessment of the deal on Twitter.
“Did #President just blink? #China & friends appear 2 be carrying the day. Will be a Big loss 4 America if Trump really has blinked! Huge!” he said.
Schumer has largely echoed those concerns. In a tweet Friday, Schumer said Trump should go after a more sweeping set of changes to the US’s relationship with China.
“@realDonaldTrump: Don’t let Pres. Xi play you. Trading some short-term purchases of American goods & giving up on China’s theft of American intellectual property (which are our family jewels that will create millions of good paying jobs) is the art of a bad deal. Stand strong,” he said.
The Democratic leader has long been sceptical of free trade, breaking with President Barack Obama on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and pushing for a renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
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