Trump, in praising Xi, links Hong Kong protests to trade war
WASHINGTON — President Trump made what seemed to be an overture to the Chinese leader Xi Jinping in a series of tweets on Wednesday night that linked the protests in Hong Kong to the continuing trade conflict between the United States and China.
Trump praised Xi as “a great leader” who wants to “quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem.” The president ended that post with “Personal meeting?” without clarifying whether he was suggesting a summit with Xi.
In a tweet sent shortly before that, Trump wrote that “of course China wants to make a trade deal. Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!”
President Trump hinted at a “personal meeting” with Chinese President Xi Jinping over Hong Kong protests. https://t.co/AiyxwjiB9a
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) August 15, 2019
He also said that his decision to hold off on imposing new tariffs on China until December “actually helps China more than us, but will be reciprocated. Millions of jobs are being lost in China to other non-Tariffed countries.”
The White House had no immediate comment on the tweets, which were posted hours after U.S. equities plunged as a Treasury yield curve inverted, heightening fears of a recession. The trade dispute with China has contributed to the rising anxiety, which arrived at a difficult time for Trump, who has based his reelection strategy on a robust economy.
Attempting to carry out diplomacy over social media, however, carries risks.
I suspect President Xi won’t be particularly interested in sitting down and talking with any foreign leader, let alone Donald Trump, about what the Chinese consider an internal affair. https://t.co/c52A48AonA
— Anthony Zurcher (@awzurcher) August 15, 2019
Even suggesting a link between the trade dispute and the Hong Kong unrest will feed suspicions in Beijing that the United States is seeking to leverage China’s domestic crisis as part of broader strategy to check its rise. China has in recent weeks attempted to paint the U.S. as a “black hand” behind the protests, with a front-page commentary in the Communist Party’s People Daily newspaper saying Thursday that the goal of such forces was fomenting a “color revolution.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump tried to deflect criticism of his trade agenda by lashing out at Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, and blamed his policies for the bad news in the markets.
He repeated his criticism that the United States is being harmed by the Fed not lowering interest rates quickly enough relative to other countries.