US President Donald Trump has warned that trade talks with China would be hampered if Beijing uses violent means to crack down on the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
"No, I think it would be very hard to deal if they do violence. If it's another Tiananmen Square … I think it's a very hard thing to do if there's violence," Trump told reporters in New Jersey, referring to the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Beijing in 1989.
"So I hope - because I think we're going to end up doing a very good deal. And I think China, by the way, needs a deal much more than we do."
Protests have taken place in Hong Kong since June 9, sparked by demands for the city's government to withdraw an unpopular extradition bill that would have allowed the transfer of suspects to jurisdictions with which Hong Kong did not have an extradition agreement, including mainland China.
The protests have included violent clashes, which Beijing said showed "sign of terrorism", and paramilitary troops were mobilised to Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong.
A generally peaceful rally on Sunday was attended by 1.7 million people, organisers said. It passed without tear gas being fired, although police said some protesters hurled hard objects at them and shone laser beams at the force's headquarters.
Trump said that if a Tiananmen Square-style crackdown happened in Hong Kong, "there'd be tremendous political sentiment not to do something", referring to trade negotiations between China and the United States.
"I'll tell you what I do support: I support liberty. I support democracy. I understand what's going on very well over there," Trump said. "I'd love to see it worked out in a humane fashion. And I think they have a great chance of doing it.
"It does put pressure on the trade deal. If they do something negative, it puts pressure."
Trump added: "I have a confidence in the talents of President Xi (Jinping). I think if he met with the protesters, within a very short period of time, they would work something out that's good for everybody. I really believe that."
Trump's comments came with Chinese and US officials planning talks to end their year-long tariff war. White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Sunday that phone calls between the countries were planned for the next 10 days, and negotiations could resume if they went well.
Trump said tariffs were affecting the Chinese economy.
"China is eating the tariffs because of monetary manipulation," he said. "And also, they're pouring a lot of money into their country because they don't want to lose jobs. They lost over 2 million jobs in a short period of time. And they want to make a deal; we'll see what happens. But they definitely want to make a deal."
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