Carrie Lam hong kong politics

Trump Calls Xi ‘Good Man In Tough Business’, Wants ‘Quick’, ‘Humane’ Solution To Hong Kong Problem

"Personal meeting"?

Donald Trump, seemingly unsatisfied that the market has had enough of his tweeting, weighed in on China and the upheaval in Hong Kong on Wednesday evening, hours after the closing bell sounded on the worst session of 2019 for the Dow.

The administration’s position on the civil unrest in Hong Kong is largely a mystery. Sure, the White House has urged calm, and the State department ostensibly views any physical threats against the protesters as a potential human rights violation, but on the other hand, Trump is desperate to secure as much leverage as possible in the trade standoff. To the extent the civil unrest weakens Xi’s international image and keeps Beijing occupied or otherwise off balance, that arguably plays to Trump’s benefit. That’s why Hua Chunying (a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry) continues to accuse the US of “interfering” in China’s internal affairs by fomenting local discord. This is complicated by the fact that Trump hasn’t really condemned the use of violence against protesters either, a nod to his affinity for strongman tactics and disdain for political opposition.

“Many are blaming me, and the United States, for the problems going on in Hong Kong. I can’t imagine why?”, Trump wondered on Tuesday. He also suggested on Twitter that Chinese troops were preparing to institute martial law and, while speaking to reporters, casually said he “hopes nobody gets killed”.

Read more: Trump Soothes Nerves By Teasing Imminent Chinese Military Invasion Of Hong Kong

On Wednesday afternoon, he (correctly) assessed that the Hong Kong situation is adding to market angst, and in a series of tweets which crossed just before Asian trading got going, the president talked up his Chinese counterpart’s leadership skills.

“I know President Xi of China very well. He is a great leader who very much has the respect of his people”, Trump said, before characterizing the Chinese strongman as “a good man in a ‘tough business'”. It wasn’t immediately clear what “business” Trump was referring to, but he went on to to say that the White House has “ZERO doubt that if Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it”. Although well-meaning, “humane” wasn’t the best word choice – it suggested Xi is dealing with animals at a time when Beijing has castigated some protesters as akin to domestic terrorists.

Trump then asked: “Personal meeting?”

Probably not. Or at least not if that means between himself and Xi, considering Beijing is whatever the opposite of happy is with Trump right now.

The tweets may have been a response to a Politico article which suggested the US president has demurred when asked by his advisers to offer his support to the protesters.

“In recent days, national security adviser John Bolton, China hands at both the National Security Council and the State Department, and several economic advisers have pushed for a more assertive posture on the Hong Kong demonstrations”, Politico reported on Wednesday afternoon. “They are finding little traction with a president focused more narrowly on trade negotiations with Xi Jinping — and worried that criticizing the Chinese leader’s efforts to stamp out dissent in Hong Kong will scuttle the possibility of inking a deal this winter”.

The article also says that in a June phone call with Xi, Trump promised not to condemn China in the event a crackdown should prove necessary to quell the unrest.

Shortly before his “personal meeting” tweet, Trump delivered a little more color on the trade phone call and the decision to delay tariffs on consumer goods.

“Good things were stated on the call with China the other day”, he began.

So far, so good, but it quickly went off the rails.

“They are eating the Tariffs with the devaluation of their currency and ‘pouring’ money into their system”, Trump continued, proving yet again that he has no idea how to use scare quotes and also no idea how to get through a single tweet about international relations without insulting another country. He then spoke for the American consumer, who the president imagines is “fine with or without the September date”.

On Wednesday, during interviews with Fox Business and CNBC, Peter Navarro and Wilbur Ross said the US got nothing in return for the tariff delay. Navarro begrudgingly admitted that the tariffs could have pushed up prices during the holiday shopping season.

True to form, Trump tried to say that there was reciprocation, or at least that there will be at some point, despite Ross and Navarro making it clear that this was not, in fact, a quid pro quo.

“Much good will come from the short deferral to December. It actually helps China more than us, but will be reciprocated”, Trump said, adding that “millions of jobs are being lost in China to other non-Tariffed countries”. (Don’t forget that Trump is “tariffing” some of those countries too.)

He finished up by insisting that “China wants to make a deal”, but suggested they need to “work humanely with Hong Kong first!”

It’s anybody’s guess what the point of Trump’s Wednesday evening remarks was, and, again, it’s not at all clear what his position on the Hong Kong situation actually is.

One thing we do know, though, is that lawmakers in the US have been unequivocal.

“The people of Hong Kong are making clear that they will not tolerate repression, and their movement affirms: The power is with the people”, Elizabeth Warren proclaimed this week. “They deserve our support and the support of the world.”

“To the thousands of young people in Hong Kong who are speaking UP for human rights and speaking OUT against the Communist Party of China: we see you waving the American flag, and we hear you singing our national anthem”, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday. “America stands for freedom. America stands with Hong Kong”.

Right. And Donald Trump stands for and with… something and someone? Maybe? He’ll let you know.

Read more: Hong Kong Goes From Bad To Worse As Property Shares Dive Into Bear Market Amid Airport Upheaval

10 comments on “Trump Calls Xi ‘Good Man In Tough Business’, Wants ‘Quick’, ‘Humane’ Solution To Hong Kong Problem

  1. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe i am saying this, but i agree with trumpolini’s general attitude on this. I live in Guangzhou, i travel to HK frequently for business the protests don’t have the support of the people there, initially they did when they asked for the extradition law to be repealed. The protesters are a bunch of youth mostly from organizations financed by American NGOs, typical mode of operation where ever there is American sponsored or colored revolutions. China is acting in proportion and in fact is managing the situation well. If these protest where in Paris, nobody would have been so alarmed. Extremely disappointed with Warrens statement, shame. Speaking out against the communist party…why is that a virtue? You keep your “democracy” China keeps it’s own communist system, where is the problem? Why is it so hard to mind your own fucking business, i mean Iraq Afghanistan Syria Lybia, and possible coming soon Iran, should be enough to make any case on American Imperialism, be it from the democratic party or the republicans. Pathetic.

    • trying it in Iran would be a suicide mission. hopefully, Trump knows better than that

      • the issue with Trump’s position on the Hong Kong protests, as I see it anyway, is that he has no position.

        that’s what I was trying to convey here. it’s just like everything else… he doesn’t know enough about it to have a real opinion and doesn’t care to learn, so he just defaults to something he does want/know something about, in this case the trade war

        • Anonymous says:

          Completely agree H. I know that’s what you meant, and i agree he is incapable of having anything resembling a normal formed view or opinion. What i hope though, is that someone encourages him to be his usual self on these matters of war and peace, and somehow we can avoid wars simply because he is a capricious little man.

  2. George says:

    In case no one has noticed there is a sense of panic and disbelief in the air regarding economic as well as geopolitical events. The existing world order is going to take a turn to multi- lateralism away from the Hubris laden Unilateralism of the last 40 years….Trump is symptomatic of the kicking and screaming that precedes these events.

    • Well said George. The global oligarchs know that once the baby bombers are not the dominant voting block they will lose control. The younger generations are less controllable. The hard push and investment of billions by the global entho/theocratic fascist authoritarianist factions is an attempt to flip that script.

      And Anon, seriously funded by American NGOs? You know alt right propaganda websites mostly just spread lies right? Or perhaps you’re under the employ of one of the oligarch factions tasked with spreading the lies. Or maybe you’re easily fooled by Chinese propaganda. But if I was in the shoes of the Hong Kong people I’d have serious issues with the erosion of the protections of a free democracy. The establishment of extradition to the main land is the start of shipping political dissidents from HK to the labor/death camps the Chinese government likes to call “re-education facilities”. I’d be violently protesting that too.

      • Anonymous says:

        @Hopium Dealer. 🙂 Perhaps i am under the payment of oligarchs but that doesn’t take away the fact that the US has a long history of doing precisely this sort of thing, and much much worse. The fact is that the US is an Imperialistic warmongering country, the model of capitalism that it has, unlike social democracies requires that the US is in constant hunt for securing resources to supply it’s over production and over consumption. Second, i don’t care about democracy or not democracy, i like my thought to be based on science and common sense, all governments are established to serve the interests of those who have against those who don’t. Smith, Hume and Marx are all in agreement as to this point. Democratic governments monarchies or what have you. Whatever freedom democracy affords are eroded by the constant ignorance of the electorate, and the corruption of the ruling class. A country that votes for Bush and Trump, is hardly in a position to dictate to others the form of government they need to have. Third, the idea that anti imperialism or anti interventionism and anti war is a right wing idea is laughable. It is as left as they get. You have no idea what erosion of freedom is, you don’t have a clue. What you read or see in movies i have lived in real life. In my country we used to be jailed just for an innocent comment, just for wearing something that resembled western fashion, you have never been in HK or in China, but with all this you claim to know exactly that “freedoms” are being eroded, because you saw it on CNN, or your congress person some corrupted moron who can’t find China on a map told you so.

        • Anonymous says:

          @Hopium Dealer. I reread what i wrote, sorry if the post sounds a bit harsh, i didn’t mean to make it sound personal.
          Cheers.

    • mfn says:

      You mean, working in concert with other countries to address transnational problems? Yeah, no. Seems to me the exact opposite — retreating behind walls and ethnonationalism — is what is happening.

  3. gordon says:

    I object to Warren’s comment. “To the thousands of young people in Hong Kong who are speaking UP for human rights and speaking OUT against the Communist Party of China: we see you waving the American flag, and we hear you singing our national anthem”,

    thats the problem^ its not about America or the US. Its about the Chinese allowing democracy in their tightly regulated domain. I’m certain Xi is cognizant of.

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