President Donald Trump talks to the media before boarding Air Force One at Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, N.J., on Tuesday. | Susan Walsh/AP Photo White House Trump spurns China claim of U.S. role in Hong Kong protests By NAHAL TOOSI and MAYA KING 08/13/2019 01:13 PM EDT Updated 08/13/2019 04:04 PM EDT 2019-08-13T04:04-0400 Share…
President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to dismiss Chinese allegations that the U.S. is behind escalating tensions in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protesters challenging Beijing’s control have clashed with riot police.
Trump also said he hopes “nobody gets killed” while noting that U.S. intelligence has spotted Chinese troops moving close to the border with Hong Kong.
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To date, Trump has said little on the Hong Kong crisis, sparking criticism that he is more worried about getting a trade deal with China than backing the spread of democracy. Still, his laconic approach hasn’t stopped China from linking America to the chaos.
“Many are blaming me, and the United States, for the problems going on in Hong Kong. I can’t imagine why?” Trump tweeted Tuesday. He added: “Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!”
In separate remarks to reporters, Trump said: “The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation. I hope it works out peacefully. I hope nobody gets hurt. I hope nobody gets killed.”
In Hong Kong, protesters continued to face off with riot police, including at the Hong Kong airport, one of the busiest in the world. The protests there have grown so large that officials canceled all incoming and outgoing flights on Monday and dozens more on Tuesday.
China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday once againleveled accusationsthat American officials are encouraging the “rabble-rousers in Hong Kong.” Beijing had earlier claimed that the “black hand” of the CIA was involved.
postedthis week by Chinese propaganda outlets are said to show security forces amassing in Shenzhen, a city bordering Hong Kong. While the forces may be there to conduct exercises, the implied threat to the protesters was obvious. It was not clear whether the intelligence Trump referred to was the same as what was shown on the video.
The president’s comments on Tuesday were relatively mild compared with how harsh he has been on the Chinese when it comes to striking a trade deal. Trump has claimed that Beijing is ripping off the United States, and he has imposed tariffs on China to force it to negotiate a new deal.
But the Chinese have indicated that they are willing to bear the pain, at least for now.
tweetedon Monday: “The people of Hong Kong are making clear that they will not tolerate repression, and their movement affirms: The power is with the people. They deserve our support and the support of the world.”
At least one other Democratic presidential contender, former Vice President Joe Biden, has expressed support for the protesters, saying in June, “All of us must stand in support of democratic principles and freedom.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has recently promised to push forward legislation that would penalize Chinese officials who infringe on Hong Kong’s autonomy. It remains unclear whether Trump will support the legislation.
“The extraordinary outpouring of courage from the people of Hong Kong stands in stark contrast to a cowardly government that refuses to respect the rule of law or live up to the ‘one country, two systems’ framework which was guaranteed more than two decades ago,” Pelosi, a California Democrat, said in astatement.
Eliana Johnson contributed to this report.
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