President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he hopes the situation in Hong Kong, which is experiencing ongoing pro-democracy protests, is resolved peacefully and in a way that benefits all parties — including China.
“The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation, very tough. We’ll see what happens but I’m sure it will work out. I hope it works out for everybody — including China, by the way,” Trump told reporters in New Jersey before departing for an event in Pennsylvania.
The president added, “I hope nobody gets hurt, I hope nobody gets killed.”
After these comments, Trump took to Twitter and suggested he’s being blamed for the situation in Hong Kong.
Trump tweeted, “Many are blaming me, and the United States, for the problems going on in Hong Kong. I can’t imagine why?”
The president in a separate tweet added, “Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!”
Trump has faced criticism from foreign policy experts and media figures for not offering a more forceful defense of the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
When asked about the situation earlier this month, Trump told reporters, “Hong Kong is a part of China, they’ll have to deal with that themselves.” The president also characterized the protests as “riots.”
And Trump in July seemed to side with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom he’s often praised, over the protesters.
“I think President Xi of China has acted responsibly, very responsibly,” Trump said at the time. “I hope that President Xi will do the right thing but it has been going on a long time.”
Read more: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam warns against pushing the city into the ‘abyss’ as protesters force airport to cancel hundreds more flights
After the president’s comments on Tuesday regarding Hong Kong, he continued to face criticism from some in the foreign policy community. Nicholas Burns, the former US ambassador to NATO, for example, tweeted: “Trump favors both sides in Hong Kong protests. Hardly a profile in courage. The only side the US should be on is democratic rights for the people of Hong Kong.”
There are concerns Beijing might ultimately attempt to quell the demonstrations with a military-led crackdown similar to the violent repression of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Trump, who in a 1990 interview praised China’s violent response to the 1989 Tiananmen Square student-led demonstrations, has often faced criticism for his demeanor toward authoritarian governments.
In early August, a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers wrote Trump a letter urging him to condemn China’s “efforts to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy.”
The letter warned: “Failure to respond to Beijing’s threats will only encourage Chinese leaders to act with impunity.”
Read more: 12 photos show thousands of protesters flooding into Hong Kong’s airport, leading to hundreds of canceled flights
The protests in Hong Kong began weeks ago over a controversial extradition law proposed by China, and have evolved into a broader indictment of Beijing’s authority as protesters rallied against the tactics of police.
Hong Kong is part of China but has a high degree of autonomy, including an independent judiciary, under the “one country, two systems” policy following the city’s return to Chinese control in 1997.
The recent demonstrations in Hong Kong have been mostly peaceful but have seen moments of violence, including this week.
The protests have also caused the city’s airport to suspend most flight operations for the second consecutive day on Tuesday. As demonstrators occupied the airport, some apologized to travelers some apologized to travelers who were delayed by the situation.