President Donald Trump on Friday, November 22nd would not say if he will sign legislation supporting the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement that has cast a shadow over his efforts to conclude a trade deal with Beijing.
Six weeks after the trade deal was announced, the "phase one" bargain between Washington and Beijing seemingly went from not going anywhere to becoming a reality as both sides claim they are discussing better terms, AFP reported.
On Friday, President Xi Jinping said China wants a deal but is "not afraid to fight back" if necessary.
Hours later, Trump's response came in a live phone call to Fox News in which he told the hosts that the deal was "potentially very close" but that Xi was under greater pressure to strike a bargain. Trump added that, when it comes to Hong Kong, he is balancing competing interests.
Beijing has denounced new US legislation adopted this week in support of the semi-autonomous city's democracy movement.
"We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I'm also standing with President Xi," Trump said. "We have to see them work it out."
In a speech last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been more vocal about China, accused Beijing of repeatedly failing to keep its promise, according to South China Morning Post daily.
“What we are confronted with is a challenge from the Chinese Communist Party” that is “inconsistent with what they have promised,” Pompeo told a packed hall at Rice University in Houston.