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16 August, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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Trump links Hong Kong crisis to trade as weekend rallies loom

AFP, Hong Kong

Donald Trump on Wednesday urged China to "humanely" resolve the violent stand-off with pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, as concerns grow that Beijing is considering direct intervention in the crisis.

In a series of tweets, the US president linked a possible trade deal with Beijing to a peaceful resolution to the political unrest that has roiled the semi-autonomous Chinese city for 10 weeks.

Washington has become increasingly alarmed by the build-up of Chinese security forces on the border with Hong Kong as the protests show no signs of abating and Beijing intensifies its drumbeat of intimidation against a movement pushing democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms.

"Millions of jobs are being lost in China to other non-Tariffed countries. Thousands of companies are leaving. Of course China wants to make a deal. Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!" Trump wrote on Twitter, in the first clear indication that the trade deal could be threatened by how Beijing reacts to the protests.

"I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it," Trump said in a subsequent tweet, suggesting a "personal meeting" with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

The Hong Kong protests were sparked by opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the mainland, but have since morphed into a wider -- sometimes violent -- movement for democratic rights.

The movement represents the greatest challenge to Beijing's authority since the city was handed back by the British in 1997 under a deal that allowed it to keep freedoms that many Hong Kongers feel are being eroded.

Activists are planning another series of mass rallies this weekend in a bid to show their movement still maintains broad public support despite violent scenes during a disruptive occupation of the airport.

On Tuesday, chaos erupted at one of the world's busiest transport hubs as protesters physically stopped travellers from boarding flights, battled riot police and assaulted two men they accused of being Chinese infiltrators.

Beijing -- which has refused to grant any concessions to the protest movement -- has seized on the airport violence, with state-media churning out a deluge of condemnatory articles, pictures and videos.

"The radicals' violent attacks on innocent citizens are tantamount to an act of terrorism that should be condemned in the strongest terms possible," Xinhua wrote in a commentary on Thursday.

Until the airport protest, hardcore demonstrators had largely focused their anger towards the police, with whom they have fought weekly battles, or state institutions such as the city's parliament and Beijing's main office in the city.

The chaotic scenes inside the airport have prompted some soul-searching within the largely leaderless movement over whether that violence has undermined their cause.

As some groups sent out apologies, messaging forums used to organise protests have filled with calls to support a planned rally on Sunday organised by the Civil Human Rights Front -- a group that advocates non-violence and has previously managed to get colossal crowds out onto the streets.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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