WASHINGTON – President Trump, who presented himself as a neutral observer of the mass protests in Hong Kong, offered lukewarm support to democracy-oriented demonstrators on Tuesday, but no longer criticized the government in Beijing.
Commenting on Reporters In a series of tweets in the afternoon, Mr. Trump did not comment on the demonstrations that hit Hong Kong for weeks and were increasingly brutally answered by the local security forces. He did not repeat any Democrat and Republican defense against freedom and democracy.
"The Hong Kong thing is a very difficult situation. Very hard, "Trump told reporters as he left New Jersey for an official event in Pennsylvania. But I'm sure it will work. "He added," I hope it works for everyone, including China, I hope it works peacefully, I hope no one gets hurt hope that no one is killed. "
" Everyone should be calm and secure ! ", He added.
Critics and allies said that the combination of Mr. Trump's relative lack of interest in human rights and his close focus on US economic relations with China make him less eager, party to the escalating showdown between the Chinese government and China to seize the demonstrators in Hong Kong. However, some warned that he tacitly advocated what for many could be the most brutal suppression of democratic differences in China in nearly 30 years.
In his comments to the reporters, Mr. Trump admitted that he "hopes it will work for freedom," without explaining what he meant. He did not comment on the demonstrators' demands for more political freedom and protection from the growing influence of the Chinese mainland on the former British colony.
This month, Trump repeated the Chinese state media by calling the demonstrations "riots" and said, "This is between Hong Kong and China because Hong Kong is part of China."
The Democrats sharply criticized Mr. Trump for calling him weak and ambiguous in the face of the threat to basic American values.
"This is not foreign policy," responded Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, on Twitter on Mr. Trump's tweets. On Monday, Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat candidate for the presidency, tweeted that the people of Hong Kong "deserve our support and the support of the world."
Michael Pillsbury, a high-ranking employee At the Hudson Institute, which advises the Trump government on China policy issues, the president said that economic relations between the United States and China are almost exclusively a cause for revival and that human rights violations are a distraction.
"The regime needs to change its economy model and its trade behavior and violations of the World Trade Organization," said Pillsbury. "That's his focus."
Mr. Trump has criticized China's economic policies for decades, including in several of his books. But one of them, "The America We Deserve," published in 2000, also condemned China's political system and praised its own "unwillingness to suppress the mistreatment of China's citizens by its own government." Mr. Trump called China a "repressive regime" and added, "Do not pretend we're less involved."
Today, Mr. Trump's willingness to look away has made him an outlier in his own party made.
On Monday, Senator Mitch McConnell Kentucky Majority Leader tweeted a warning that a crackdown on the protests was "totally unacceptable" and added, "The world is watching." Attitude towards the demonstrators as the president.
"We condemn violence and urge all sides to exercise restraint, but stick to our support for freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly in Hong Kong." said tment in a statement. "Freedom of opinion and peaceful assembly are central values that we share with Hong Kong. These freedoms must be vigorously protected.
Some foreign policy experts noted that Trump once spoke with apparent admiration of China's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1990 and told Playboy magazine, "They were vicious, they were terrible, but they laid it down with force. That shows you the power of strength. "
Thomas Wright, a high-ranking employee of the Brookings Institution, who has focused on the struggle between democracy and authoritarianism, said Trump made a grave mistake in signaling Beijing indifference to a possible crackdown on the protests.
"Beijing is basically giving the green light to do everything it wants, and when read in the context of its general support for authoritarians, I think the White House message is pretty clear, which means that this is a purely internal matter, "Wright said.
Mr. Trump's remarks came on a day when he announced the delay in tariffs planned on Chinese goods in the midst of a major trade turmoil with Beijing threatening the world economy before the 2020 election.
Stephen Trump, a former white house adviser to Trump's White House who strongly supports the protests, said he was likely to exercise caution because he feared destabilizing China and jeopardizing its president, Xi Jinping he has built a relationship.
"I think Trump is throwing Xi a lifeline," Mr. Bannon said. "A tweet, a comment by Trump can lead to the whole thing going in a certain direction. I think he is very careful with unintended consequences. Mr Bannon, who sees the United States as involved in a deadly struggle with China, made his own point of view unmistakably clear: "The young demonstrators in Hong Kong are like the patriots of 1776," he said Mr. Trump also appeared to be sensitive on Tuesday on allegations from Beijing that the United States had sparked uprisings in Hong Kong, including one made by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Monday.
Hong Kong anti-China agitators have unduly criticized China, undermined violent and illegal activities and undermined Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, "spokesman Hua Chunying said in comments posted on the State Department's website." These facts are just too obviously. "
An editorial by the nationalist Chinese daily The D aily Times, which is often regarded as the mouthpiece for government hardliners, reiterated the allegation, saying that the protests could do so "This leads to long-term turmoil in Hong Kong, thereby increasing China's political and economic burden."
"That's it See some American and Western forces, "continued the editorial.
Mr. Trump seemed to answer such allegations in one of his tweets on Tuesday. "Many blame me and the United States for the problems in Hong Kong," he wrote. "I can not imagine why?"