- As President Donald Trump on Tuesday congratulated China on 70 years of Communist Party rule, Republicans in Congress slammed Beijing for its crackdown in Hong Kong.
- A teenage demonstrator was shot by police in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
- Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech in Beijing, where the Chinese government held a massive military parade to commemorate the anniversary of Communist rule.
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President Donald Trump on Tuesday congratulated China on 70 years of Communist Party rule as police simultaneously engaged in a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
Trump tweeted, “Congratulations to President Xi and the Chinese people on the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China!”
Despite his ongoing trade war with China, the president has routinely expressed admiration for Xi and boasted about their strong rapport. “I get along with him great,” Trump said of his relationship with Xi in April.
Xi has been characterised as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, and human-rights watchdogs have warned his rule has been typified by “increasing repression” on multiple fronts.
The anniversary of Communist Party rule is celebrated annually as China’s National Day on October 1. To commemorate the 70th anniversary this year, the central government held a massive military parade in Beijing on Tuesday involving 15,000 soldiers. Xi also delivered a speech, declaring, “There is no force that can shake the foundation of this great nation.”
As Xi reviewed China’s troops in the capital, a teenage demonstrator was shot in the chest by a police officer on Tuesday, marking the first time law enforcement in Hong Kong used live rounds since protests began in June.
Crazy footage out of Hong Kong this morning pic.twitter.com/wStvJNHCP0
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) October 1, 2019
Trump’s congratulatory statement to China stands in stark contrast with statements from Republicans in Congress
Trump has been criticised for not offering a more forceful defence of the Hong Kong demonstrators, and in August experts on the region told Insider that his relative silence presented a “green light” for a military crackdown.
China has not used the military to quell the protests as of yet. But amid fears that a Tiananmen-style crackdown is on the horizon, China has discreetly doubled troop levels in Hong Kong to 12,000, Reuters reported on Monday.
Statements from Republican lawmakers on the anniversary of Communist Party rule in China stand in stark contrast to Trump’s, and included concerned references to the situation in Hong Kong.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for example, in a statement said, “On the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, we should pause to recognise the many millions of lives lost under Chinese communist rule … It is darkly fitting that on the 70th anniversary of the PRC, its agents would be reduced to using force against protesters in Hong Kong who seek to preserve basic personal freedoms.”
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also released a statement expressing concern over the protester who was shot.
“Today’s shooting in Hong Kong marks an unacceptable escalation in the Chinese Communist Party’s assault on the people of Hong Kong and their peaceful protests against tyranny,” Cruz said. “This violence occurred against the backdrop of China’s systematic campaign to undermine Hong Kong’s freedom and autonomy, against which the United States has already begun to push back.”
The protests in Hong Kong began in June in response to a controversial extradition law put forward by the Chinese government, but have spiraled into a broader critique of Beijing and a rejection of its authority.
Under an arrangement known as “one country, two systems,” Hong Kong has enjoyed a high degree of autonomy since China regained sovereignty over the metropolis from the UK in 1997. But Xi’s efforts to solidify his power, among other factors, have stretched that arrangement to its limits.
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