House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused President Trump Wednesday of inviting “miscalculation” in Hong Kong by failing to take a hard line on China amid signs of a looming crackdown on protests, underscoring the gulf in rhetoric between lawmakers in both parties and the president, who wants the situation to work out for “everybody, including China.”
The California Democrat said if Mr. Trump — who is engaged in thorny trade talks with Beijing — doesn’t speak out because of commercial interests, it will lose its moral authority to speak out elsewhere.
“We urge President Trump to walk away from his recent statements, which invite miscalculation, and to work to advance peace, justice and democracy in Hong Kong,” she said.
She is among several congressional leaders who’ve unequivocally sided with the protesters who’ve clashed with police in a simmering fight to preserve their quasi-autonomy mainland China.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said a crackdown on protesters would be “completely unacceptable,” while Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, warned any suppression would be a “grave mistake” on part with the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee are warning China against military action amid ongoing massive pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, and denied Beijing’s charges that the U.S. was fueling the protests.
Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, New York Democrat, and Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the panel’s ranking Republican, said in a statement Wednesday: “It is Beijing’s actions that are at the root of the frustration among the people of Hong Kong. No foreign powers are fomenting this dissent.”
Hong Kong reopened its main airport Wednesday after two days of clashes with police that caused hundreds of flight cancellations.
The strong Hill reaction left Mr. Trump as a cautious outlier on U.S. policy toward the crisis.
“I hope it works out for everybody, including China,” he said Tuesday, as protesters clashed with police at the Hong Kong airport. “I hope it works out peacefully. I hope nobody gets hurts. I hope nobody gets killed.”
He later warned, via Twitter, that Chinese soldiers were amassing near the Hong Kong border. He urged everyone to be calm and safe, though didn’t cast blame.
Chinese officials battling Mr. Trump’s tariff pressure appear to be returning the favor, singling out members of Congress instead of the White House.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry singled out members of Congress Tuesday instead of Mr. Trump, asking are they “lawmakers or lawbreakers?”
• Lauren Meier contributed to this story.
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