Trump calls China's Xi 'a good man' in a 'tough business' amid Hong Kong unrest

Trump calls China's Xi 'a good man' in a 'tough business' amid Hong Kong unrest
© Aaron Schwartz

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Warren warns Facebook may help reelect Trump 'and profit off of it' Trump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' MORE called Chinese President Xi Jinping a “good man” in a “tough business” on Wednesday as tensions continue to escalate between Chinese police forces and protesters in Hong Kong. 

“I know President Xi of China very well. He is a great leader who very much has the respect of his people," Trump tweeted. "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?” 

Trump's comments came after national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonWashington indecision compounded the Kurds' dilemma US Ambassador Sondland says Trump directed officials to work with Giuliani on Ukraine Sondland could provide more clues on Ukraine controversy MORE warned the Chinese government against any potential crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong earlier Wednesday. 

"The Chinese have to look very carefully at the steps they take because people in America remember Tiananmen Square," John Bolton told Voice of America's Greta Van Susteren, referencing the 1989 student-led protests in China.

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"They remember the picture of the man standing in front of the line of tanks," he continued. "They remember the Statue of Liberty, they remember the voices of the Chinese people asking for freedom and democracy, and they remember the repression of the Chinese government in 1989. It would be a big mistake to create a new memory like that in Hong Kong."

Bolton's warning comes as the Chinese government gathered military personnel and equipment near Hong Kong, where mass protests have persisted for weeks.

Trump has stopped short of warning Chinese forces not to crack down on protests. On Tuesday he said, “The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation, very tough.” He tweeted Wednesday evening that he would wait to reach a trade deal with China until its government dealt "humanely" with the demonstrations.

International watchdogs have cautioned that Trump's unwillingness to speak out in support of the protesters may be viewed by some as a green light for Beijing to move more aggressively in cracking down on demonstrations.

The protests, which have gone on for weeks, follow a now-suspended bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to China. Protesters fear the bill could be revived, expanding mainland China’s control in Hong Kong.