President Trump said that he had prevented Hong Kong protesters from becoming “obliterated” by Chinese troops, by asking Chinese leader Xi Jinping not to send troops into the autonomous region.

Speaking during a phone call with Fox and Friends on Friday, Nov. 22, the president said that, at that time, China has “a million soldiers standing outside of Hong Kong,” but he reasoned with Xi that if the Chinese leader made any further move, “it’s going to make a tremendous negative impact on the trade deal.” He explicitly cited that the ongoing trade negotiation was the key factor that caused Xi to avoid the decision of a harsh crackdown on Hong Kong protesters.

According to President Trump, China wants to make the deal “even more than us.” The trade war between US-China has made significant impacts on the Chinese economy. Chinese economic growth slowed in the third quarter to its lowest in 10 years, while data from October – the first month of the fourth quarter – indicated that economic growth had slowed further, reported South China Morning Post. And the president expressed optimism that they would soon reach the deal.

When asked about his position on the pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, that awaits his signing to turn into law after unanimous passage by the House and the Senate, President Trump indicated that ” We have to stand with Hong Kong” but also insisted on getting the trade deal done.

Chinese officials have reportedly asked him to veto the bills, threatening “the negative consequences will boomerang on itself” otherwise. 

The president did not make a clear comment on whether to sign the bills, implying “We have to see them [China] work it out”

Meanwhile, amid the rising violence and attack on Hong Kong protesters, Senators have voiced their strong support to pro-democracy protest and condemnation of the violient acts of Hong Kong police and China.

“Today’s vote sends a clear message that the United States will continue to stand with the people of Hong Kong as they battle Beijing’s imperialism. The Chinese Communist Party’s quest for power across the region is a direct threat to America’s security and prosperity,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).

In a tweet late Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wrote: “The people in Hong Kong are engaged in an existential battle for liberty. Today the Senate sent a clear message that America stands with Hong Kong by passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.”

It is the first time that President Trump publicly claimed his intervention in the situation in Hong Kong. Back in August, the president suggested Xi to “meet directly and personally with the protesters” to solve the Hong Kong problem “humanely” in his Tweet.