TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed his concern over a potentially violent crackdown on Hong Kong protesters, as Beijing on Thursday (Aug. 15) warned it would not “sit by and watch.”
“I am concerned. I wouldn’t want to see a violent crackdown,” Trump told reporters on Friday (Aug. 16). He added that China President Xi Jinping (習近平) could “work it out in 15 minutes, if he sat down with the protesters,” while hinting he would speak by phone to Xi soon.
Trump tweeted that he was confident Xi would be able to resolve the crisis “humanely” on Thursday.
If President Xi would meet directly and personally with the protesters, there would be a happy and enlightened ending to the Hong Kong problem. I have no doubt! https://t.co/eFxMjgsG1K— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2019
He also tied, for the first time, a possible trade deal to the peaceful resolution of the Hong Kong protests, in another tweet on the same day.
..deferral to December. It actually helps China more than us, but will be reciprocated. Millions of jobs are being lost in China to other non-Tariffed countries. Thousands of companies are leaving. Of course China wants to make a deal. Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2019
According to Channel News Asia (CNA), Trump’s recent comments on Hong Kong signal a change in approach. He has been criticized at home by both political parties for shying away from the issue, even describing the protests as “riots” and “issues between Hong Kong and China” earlier this month, to avoid irritating Beijing.
The anti-extradition bill protests have gradually evolved into a wider call for democracy over the past 10 weeks. U.S. intelligence reports suggest China is moving troops to the territory’s border and observers are increasingly worried about Hong Kong experiencing a bloody crackdown like the student-led demonstration at Tiananmen Square in 1989.