The Wall Street Journal: Trump suggests meeting with China’s Xi to resolve Hong Kong crisis

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump suggested a “personal meeting” with China’s President Xi Jinping to discuss the escalating crisis in Hong Kong and warned China it must respond “humanely” to the protests if it wants to strike a trade deal.

Trump’s statement via Twitter marked a shift in tone in his public statements regarding the situation in Hong Kong and for the first time linked the administration’s fragile trade talks with Beijing to the protests. The Wednesday evening tweets came amid growing concern within the administration that China would respond with military force to the antigovernment protests that have shut down Hong Kong’s major international airport for the past two days.

Fears over a potentially violent crackdown have prompted concern among lawmakers from both parties, some of whom have been unequivocal in their support for the protesters.

“I know President Xi of China very well,” Trump said. “He is a great leader who very much has the respect of his people. He is also a good man in a ‘tough business.’ I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it.” The president concluded, “Personal meeting?”

In recent weeks, the administration has quietly urged U.S. officials to maintain a measured response on Hong Kong over fears that public criticism of Beijing could derail U.S.-China trade talks, two senior administration officials have said. Trump himself has called for a restrained response to the protests to avoid rousing tensions with Beijing, the officials said.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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