WASHINGTON — A day after his administration announced it was suspending its plan to impose up to $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to tout the news as a sign that “fair trade” with China “will happen!”
In a series of Monday morning tweets, Trump praised his own trade efforts while taking aim at Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, accusing him and Democrats under former President Barack Obama of doing “NOTHING!” to address trade imbalances and other points of friction with China.
“I ask Senator Chuck Schumer, why didn’t President Obama & the Democrats do something about Trade with China, including Theft of Intellectual Property etc.? They did NOTHING! With that being said, Chuck & I have long agreed on this issue! Fair Trade, plus, with China will happen!” Trump tweeted.
Schumer (D-N.Y.) has sided with Trump and other critics of China’s trade practices, which the president has cast as “unfair,” and a “rip off.” On Twitter last week, amid ongoing trade negotiations between the United States and China, Schumer urged Trump to “stand strong,” suggesting that he supported the possibility of tariffs. “Don’t let President Xi play you,” Schumer said.
In a statement released Monday morning after Trump’s tweet, Schumer said, “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. 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.”
On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the Trump administration was halting its plan to impose billions of dollars in tariffs on imported Chinese goods.
“We’re putting the trade war on hold,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Mnuchin said the move was in response to China agreeing to “substantially reduce” its trade deficit with the United States following talks held in Washington last week. The president has said he wants the trade deficit reduced by $200 billion, but China did not commit to a specific amount at last week’s talks.
On Monday morning, Trump tweeted that “On China, Barriers and Tariffs to come down for first time,” and said that “China has agreed to buy massive amounts of ADDITIONAL Farm/Agricultural Products - would be one of the best things to happen to our farmers in many years!”
Despite his optimistic take on the trade negotiations, the president has faced criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike, who say that more should be done to stop China’s theft of American intellectual property.
“If putting tariffs ‘on hold’ means that while we ‘talk’ #China gets to continue to block U.S. companies but do whatever they want here & to steal intellectual property then #China has out negotiated the U.S. again,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted on Sunday. “If we make a deal in which #China promises to buy $200 billion from U.S. in exchange for business as usual, the current administration will become the latest example of a White House so desperate for a deal they get beat badly by China in negotiation.”
Trump also addressed the issue of North Korea in his Monday morning tweetstorm, nodding to the summit meeting he plans to have with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month. “China must continue to be strong & tight on the Border of North Korea until a deal is made,” Trump said on Twitter.
“The word is that recently the Border has become much more porous and more has been filtering in,” Trump tweeted. “I want this to happen, and North Korea to be VERY successful, but only after signing!”