U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to meet personally with the protesters in Hong Kong, saying it would lead to an end to tensions that have seized the territory for weeks.
"If President Xi would meet directly and personally with the protesters, there would be a happy and enlightened ending to the Hong Kong problem. I have no doubt!" Trump tweeted. Trump's tweet came a day after he tied a U.S. trade deal with China to a humane resolution of the weeks of protests wracking Hong Kong. He made that comment hours after the State Department said it was "deeply concerned" about reports of movement of Chinese paramilitary forces along the Hong Kong border.
Trump, who has been seeking a major deal to correct trade imbalances with China ahead of his 2020 re-election bid, has faced criticism from Congress and elsewhere for not taking a stronger public line on Hong Kong and for his characterization of the protests earlier this month as "riots" that were a matter for China to deal with. His apparently tougher stance on Wednesday followed an internal debate within the White House and State Department over whether the United States was looking too compliant as the Chinese appeared to be preparing for a crackdown.
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