President Donald Trump said on Nov. 22 that a bill that U.S. lawmakers passed in the House and Senate this week to show support for protesters in Hong Kong complicates trade negotiations with Beijing.
Trump was asked during an interview on “Fox & Friends” about Beijing calling on him to veto the bill.
The Chinese regime has publicly pressured Trump to veto the legislation.
“We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with President Xi [Jinping], he’s a friend of mine. He’s an incredible guy, but we have to stand … I’d like to see them work it out, OK?” the president said.
“But I stand with Hong Kong, I stand with freedom, I stand with all of the things that we want to do, but we are also in the process of making the largest trade deal in history. And if we could do that, that would be great.”
Trump’s stance almost instantly earned ire from lawmakers.
“Incredible. Trump reiterates he won’t criticize China’s communist party for its violent crackdown on brave Hong Kong protestors,” Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) said in a statement.
With one voice, Republicans & Democrats in Congress have made clear we won’t stand by as Hong Kong suppresses the human rights of its own citizens. @realdonaldtrump needs to sign this legislation into law, & he should do so proudly and in public to send a clear message to China. pic.twitter.com/uFG3YQthlu
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) November 22, 2019
“With one voice, Republicans & Democrats in Congress have made clear we won’t stand by as Hong Kong suppresses the human rights of its own citizens. @realdonaldtrump needs to sign this legislation into law, & he should do so proudly and in public to send a clear message to China,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) added.
“This would be a mistake. Congress spoke loud and clear that we #StandWithHongKong. We should all be united and speak with one voice in support of the people of HK and against China’s aggression and human rights abuses. It’s more important than a trade deal,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) wrote in response to a story that claimed Trump might veto the bill.
The act would require the State Department to review each year whether the city, which reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, retains sufficient autonomy to justify its special economic privileges with the United States. It would also pave the way to hold foreign officials accountable for certain human rights violations in Hong Kong. Penalties include barring them from entering the country and freezing their U.S.-based assets.
Trump said the Hong Kong situation makes hammering out a trade deal more complex. He also took credit for the regime not cracking down even more on the protesters there.
“That’s a complicating factor, there’s no question about it. And if it weren’t for me, Hong Kong would have been obliterated in 14 minutes,” Trump claimed on Fox. “He’s got a million soldiers standing outside of Hong Kong that aren’t going in only because I asked him, ‘Please don’t do that, you’ll be making a big mistake, it’s going to have a tremendously negative impact on the trade deal.’ And he wants to make a trade deal.”
Eva Fu contributed to this report.