U.S. President Donald Trump announced that tariffs on Chinese imports took effect on Sunday, and noted that this pressure through trade talks has made Beijing restrain itself in the way it responds to recent demonstrations in Hong Kong.
The president believes that what he is doing is “very much keeping down the temperature in Hong Kong.”
“If it weren’t for the trade talks, Hong Kong would be in much bigger trouble. I think it would’ve been much more violent,” President Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday, Aug. 30.
Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region, is seeing an increased number of anti-government mass protests that are showing no signs of ending. Protests began to have a extradition bill withdrawn that would allow local authorities to extradite fugitives to mainland China and Taiwan. Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with mainland china or Taiwan.
The mass protests have been faced with traumatizing police brutality, and a number of anti-riot measures that have wounded thousands physically and psychologically from the violent handling.
“I really believe China wants to make a deal, and they know it puts us in a very bad position if there’s not a humane way of handling the problems,” President Trump said before Marine One’s departure. “If you look at the goods they have a power that others don’t have but that power is only good for so long.”
“You know, they’ve lost 3 million jobs. It’ll soon be much more than 3 million jobs. Their chain is breaking. The chain is breaking up like nobody has seen before. And once that happens, it’s very hard to put it back together,” the president said at the G-7 summit conference in France.
“So I believe they want to do a deal.” President Trump said. “I am not sure they have a choice and I don’t say that as a threat.”
The tariff war has placed a great toll on the world’s two largest economies, and the hundreds of billions of dollars involved in each country’s goods are posing a great threat to global economic growth. Unpredictability of when the Sino-US trade war is going to end, has complicated corporations’ long-term investment plans even further.
According to a report by The New York Times on Friday, officials in Beijing have plans to escalate the arrests of Hong Kong demonstrators and are unlikely to succumb to protesters’ demands. This means the conflict could carry on for an indefinite period of time.
President Trump has called on china time and again to handle the Hong Kong protests in a “humane” way, though Friday marks the first time where he has directly used ongoing trade talks as a strategy to ameliorate tensions.
China’s Foreign Ministry said earlier on Friday that both sides are maintaining effective communication.
The United States began collecting a 15% tariff on an estimated $125 billion of Chinese goods at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Sunday. There will be no grace period on tariffs for goods in transit, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.