Sunday 25 August 2019

Trump: China should ‘work humanely’ with Hong Kong before trade talks

The US president called for a personal meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Donald Trump (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Donald Trump (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

By Kevin Freking, Associated Press

Donald Trump has suggested trade talks with China can wait until tensions in Hong Kong have eased, tweeting: “Of course China wants to make a deal. Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!”

He praised Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling him a “great leader” and saying he could quickly resolve the unrest in Hong Kong if he wanted to.

“I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?” Mr Trump tweeted.

The US president has previously said little about the protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, except to make it clear he believes that Hong Kong and China need to “deal with that themselves”.

He has urged the two sides to exercise caution and voiced hopes that the situation will be resolved peacefully.

His latest comments came as US stock markets tumbled, in part because of uncertainty over his trade standoff with Beijing.

Investors have also been rattled about the widespread protests in Hong Kong. Flights resumed at Hong Kong’s airport on Wednesday after two days of disruption that descended into clashes with police.

While Mr Trump has been reluctant to take sides, some Republican and Democratic members of Congress have voiced their support for the protesters. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement last week saying: “Dreams of freedom, justice and democracy can never be extinguished by injustice and intimidation.”

The demonstrations are against what many Hong Kong residents see as an increasing erosion of the freedoms they were promised in 1997 when Communist Party-ruled mainland China took over what had been a British colony.

Mr Trump said he knows Mr Xi well and called him a “great leader who very much has the respect of his people”.

He also voiced optimism about on-off trade negotiations with China. Administration officials have suggested a trade deal is still some way off, even as the president voices frustration about the lack of progress.

Unhappy with the pace of negotiations, Mr Trump announced two weeks ago that the US would apply 10% tariffs on about 300 billion dollars (£250 billion) in Chinese imports, beginning on September 1, but the administration moved on Tuesday to delay the tariffs on a range of Chinese-made products, including mobile phones, laptops, toys, computer monitors, shoes and clothing.

It is also removing other items from the list based “on health, safety, national security and other factors”.

Mr Trump tweeted that delaying the tariffs would help China more than the US “The American consumer is fine with or without the September date, but much good will come from the short deferral to December.”

In response, China on Thursday threatened retaliation if Washington goes ahead with the planned tariff hikes in September.

Beijing will take unspecified “necessary counter-measures”, the Chinese cabinet said in a one-sentence statement. It gave no details or any indication that plans for trade talks in Washington in September might be affected.

PA Media

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News