United States President Donald Trump on Thursday said that the ongoing crisis in Hong Kong could end if Chinese President Xi Jinping “directly and personally” met protestors. If Xi does so, “there would be a happy and enlightened ending to the Hong Kong problem”, Trump tweeted.
Hours earlier, Trump had tweeted: “I know President Xi of China very well. 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. Personal meeting?”
The words “personal meeting” in that tweet were widely interpreted and reported as a suggestion that Xi meet Trump to discuss solving the crisis. Trump clarified later that he meant a meeting between Xi and the protestors.
There have been protests in Hong Kong for the last 10 weeks, mainly seeking more freedoms for the autonomous region of China.
Meanwhile, thousands of Chinese military personnel waving red flags paraded at a sports stadium in the city of Shenzhen, across the border from Hong Kong, AFP reported. Armoured vehicles were also seen. Chinese media said that the People’s Armed Police, which is under the command of the Central Military Commission, were assembling in Shenzhen.
Chaos prevailed at Hong Kong airport early on Wednesday, with protestors clashing with riot police. Hundreds of flights were either cancelled or suspended as protestors barred passengers from going through the security gates.
Later on Wednesday, protestors apologised for the vandalism, Al Jazeera reported. “Sorry about what happened yesterday,” one of the banners read. “We were desperate. Please accept our apology.” The news network said that on Tuesday, protestors had surrounded, beaten, and tied up a security officer and a journalist from mainland China.
Trump had said on Tuesday that US intelligence had informed him about the Chinese government moving soldiers to Hong Kong’s border. “Our intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the border with Hong Kong,” he tweeted. “Everyone should be calm and safe!”
China, on the other hand, has condemned the protests. China’s Hong Kong and Macau affairs office called the protests “near-terrorist acts”.