Democratic presidential candidates have in recent days called on China to respect Hong Kong’s autonomy in contrast to President Trump, who on Tuesday called the situation “tough” and said, he hopes “it works out for everyone, including China.” In a tweet on trade talks on Wednesday, however, the president said China should “work humanely” with Hong Kong.
CBS News Political Unit Associate Producer Ellee Watson says the candidates have expressed support for Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters amidst reports that China is sending military vehicles to the border to monitor the demonstrations that have grown since they started in June.
In Iowa, Julián Castro told reporters on Tuesday the U.S. “needs to be marshaling as much support as we can with our allies to pressure China to respect individual freedom and expression and the arrangement that it has had with Hong Kong.”
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at the Iowa State Fair said Hong Kong “needs a strong voice from the U.S. calling for restraint on the part of authorities and speaking to the aspirations to the people in Hong Kong seeking freedom.”
Ahead of the second Democratic debates in July, the Council on Foreign Relations asked the candidates how the situation in Hong Kong should affect broader U.S. policy toward China. The answers all include the need to defend human rights and work with allies to do so, which aligns with what voters want to hear, according to a survey released by the progressive Center for American Progress in July.
The protests come amid a trade dispute between China and the United States that have resulted in tariffs on both countries.