As demonstrators in Hong Kong continue to advocate against China taking over their governance, President Donald Trump weighed in on the situation during a conversation this Friday on his long-favored show Fox & Friends, and his comments were as outlandish as one might expect. He took credit for the length of time that the Hong Kong demonstrators have kept their advocacy going, claiming that Chinese leaders were holding back in cracking down because they wanted to stay on Trump’s good side in the development of a long elusive trade deal. In reality, there’s not much apparent evidence that Trump has had anything to do with Hong Kong — or that a trade deal will even happen very soon.
Discussing the protests, the forever ego-obsessed Trump told the Fox hosts:
‘That’s a complicating factor. And if it weren’t for me, Hong Kong would have been obliterated in 14 minutes. [Chinese President Xi Jinping] has got a million soldiers standing outside of Hong Kong that aren’t going in only because I ask him please don’t do that, you’d be making a big mistake. It’s going to have a tremendous negative impact on the trade deal.’
It’s unclear that anything Trump said there has any relation to reality. Authorities have already been consistently implementing harsh responses to the demonstrators, although they have been continuing anyway. Still, the violence has reached the point of possible human rights violations, with continued barrages against protesters of just about every crowd control tactic imaginable, from rubber bullets to tear gas.
This past week, months after the Hong Kong protests first got underway, both chambers of Congress passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which includes provisions for sanctions on officials deemed responsible for human rights violations perpetrated against the people of Hong Kong and a demand for the State Department to annually formally analyze whether the city is still “sufficiently autonomous.” The current legal arrangement that protesters have been fighting for establishes the city as a semi-autonomous zone.
Both chambers passed that legislation with a veto-proof majority, although Trump has not indicated he won’t sign it. Still, it’s clear even via that example that it’s not exactly Trump doing the work to support the protesters, who staged new demonstrations in support of the U.S. bill’s passage.
His perspective as he explained it on Fox includes trying to pal around with Chinese President Xi Jinping just about as much as he supports the Hong Kong protesters, although he had plenty of lofty rhetoric. He said:
‘We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with President Xi. He’s a friend of mine. He’s an incredible guy. We have to stand, but I’d like to see them work it out. But I stand with Hong Kong, I stand with freedom… but we also are in the process of making the largest trade deal in history. And if we could do that it would be great.’
Yet, it’s still an open question of whether Trump will actually do anything close to that. His presidency continues to be defined by his egotistical boasts — not policy.