Trump calls Hong Kong situation 'tricky' and urges calm

An injured man whom protesters accused of being an undercover police officer is being taken by medical personal after clashes with anti-government protesters at Hong Kong's international airport.
An injured man whom protesters accused of being an undercover police officer is being taken by medical personal after clashes with anti-government protesters at Hong Kong's international airport.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MORRISTOWN (New Jersey) • US President Donald Trump has said the situation in Hong Kong is tricky, but he hopes it will work out for everybody, including China, and "for liberty", without anyone getting hurt or killed.

Mr Trump cited US intelligence as saying that China's government was moving troops to its border with Hong Kong, and urged calm. It was not clear whether Mr Trump was reporting fresh troop movements or movements near the border already reported in the media.

"Our intelligence has informed us that the Chinese government is moving troops to the border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe," he tweeted on Tuesday.

"The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation - very tough," Mr Trump told reporters during a visit to Morristown, New Jersey.

"We will see what happens.

"It is a very tricky situation. I think it will work out and I hope it works out, for liberty. I hope it works out for everybody, including China," Mr Trump said.

"I hope it works out peacefully. I hope nobody gets hurt. I hope nobody gets killed."

China's media reported this week that China has been assembling the People's Armed Police and conducting exercises in the neighbouring Chinese city of Shenzhen, adding to perceptions that Beijing might intervene to quell the protests.

 
 
 

On Tuesday, US officials said that China had denied a request for two US Navy ships to visit Hong Kong in the coming weeks. The officials said that while a specific reason was not given, such a move is not unprecedented. The last time China denied a port visit to Hong Kong was for the assault ship Wasp last September.

The US State Department said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi "had an extended exchange of views on US-China relations" on Tuesday. It provided no further details about the meeting in New York.

Mr Trump, who has been seeking a major deal to correct trade imbalances with China, drew criticism this month after he described the Hong Kong protests as "riots", and said they were a matter for China and Hong Kong to deal with as the territory was part of China.

US lawmakers took a more strident stance. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said on Monday that any violent crackdown on Hong Kong protests would be "completely unacceptable". Prominent Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat, said on Tuesday that Hong Kong could lose its special US trade status if Beijing intervened directly to crack down on protests.

In response to comments from US lawmakers, China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday told Washington to stay out of its internal affairs. The US has denied Chinese suggestions that it has a hand in the unrest. But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said the lawmakers' comments "provided new and powerful evidence to the world".

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2019, with the headline 'Trump calls HK situation 'tricky' and urges calm'. Print Edition | Subscribe