- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 18, 2019

President Trump on Sunday linked a potential trade deal with China to how Beijing handles the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, saying it would be hard to sign a pact if President Xi Jinping orders a crackdown.

“I think it would be very hard to deal if they do violence, if it’s another Tiananmen Square,” Mr. Trump said as he returned to Washington from a working vacation in New Jersey.

Hong Kong protesters again filled the streets of their semi-autonomous island over the weekend. Though protests were peaceful and not marked by the type of clashes that dominated last week’s demonstrations, there is tension over Beijing’s potential response down the road.

Mr. Trump hasn’t offered full-throated support for the protesters, as members of Congress have, though he’s pushed for a “humane” resolution that promotes “liberty.”

He says Mr. Xi should sit down with protesters to work things out, calling the Chinese leader “very smart, very talented.”

“That’s not his deal, sitting down with people,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Xi, though reiterated his belief it’s the best way forward.

Mr. Trump and his advisers insist the economy is doing well, despite jitters over the uncertain trade picture with China.

Closer to home, Mr. Trump said he’s waiting on Congress to take up his rewrite of the North American trade deal known as NAFTA.

Mr. Trump negotiated terms with Canada and Mexico, though congressional Democrats who control the House want to see changes to the deal before taking it up.

“Everybody wants it, but it’s up to Nancy Pelosi,” Mr. Trump said. “I view that as a bipartisan deal.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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