President Trump says China wants to make a deal to save its economy from the effects of American tariffs—but he wants it to "work humanely with Hong Kong first." In a series of tweets, the president linked trade discussions to the political crisis in Hong Kong, where weeks of pro-democracy protests have been encountering an increasingly heavy-handed police response, the BBC reports. The Chinese government has warned that the demonstrations, which included protests that closed Hong Kong's airport this week, are "close to terrorism." Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping in his Wednesday night tweets as a "great leader who very much has the respect of his people," and suggested a meeting.
"I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it," Trump said. "Personal meeting?" Amid fears that Beijing is ready to send forces to the territory to crack down on protests, other world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel have called for restraint, reports the South China Morning Post. In a tweet earlier Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Trump of failing to stand up to Beijing and said the president should make it clear the US "stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Hong Kong who want democracy and freedom." Analysts, however, warn that strong US support could backfire by giving Beijing an excuse to keep blaming the US for the upheaval in Hong Kong, Bloomberg reports. In a statement about an earlier Trump tweet Wednesday, China's foreign ministry said, "Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs," and it urged the US to "stop meddling." (Read more Hong Kong stories.)