mandag 25. mai 2020

Explainer: Emerging get-tough consensus among Trump's China advisers tested by Hong Kong debate

Long divided between those pushing for a hardline stance and others advocating cautious engagement, President Donald Trump’s China advisers - under the shadow of the coronavirus crisis - appear to have moved closer together on a tougher approach to Beijing. A test for this emerging consensus will be how it affects the U.S. response to China’s Communist Party rulers proposing stricter national security laws for Hong Kong that have reignited pro-democracy protests in the former British colony.

Trump, who has vacillated between the two camps in his administration, must decide if the United States will preserve Hong Kong’s special status, halt privileged treatment that has helped make it a global financial hub or take lesser actions such as targeted sanctions or tariffs if Beijing goes ahead. His hard-fought trade deal with China could also hang in the balance.

As Trump seeks re-election in November, his advisers have become more in sync on the need to pressure China, including over Hong Kong, according to current and former U.S. officials and a congressional source. Opinion polls show growing anti-China sentiment among U.S. voters.