Daniel Henninger: Does Hong Kong matter? The answer may surprise you

Walking across the White House lawn a few weeks ago on his way to an event in Ohio, President Trump was asked by a reporter about the protests in Hong Kong. They have been constant since June, when authorities were about to pass a law that would have allowed Hong Kong residents and even foreign nationals to be extradited to the mainland for prosecution under China’s legal system.

“Hong Kong is a part of China,” Mr. Trump said. “They’ll have to deal with that themselves.”

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This off-the-cuff remark by the president reflects the idea that the U.S. can’t be expected to solve all the world’s problems, a view sometimes summarized as America First. As well, Mr. Trump has been trying to negotiate a trade deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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Mr. Trump no doubt thinks the Hong Kong protesters matter in some sense, but supporting them would put his one-to-one relationship with Mr. Xi and the trade deal at risk, and so “they’ll have to deal with that themselves.”

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