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Mike Pence: Hong Kong protests making trade deal with China hard

Vice President Mike Pence said that if protests in Hong Kong were met with violence, it would be unlikely for the U.S. to negotiate a trade agreement with China.

“The president made it clear that if there is any aggression, or if that issue is not treated properly and humanely, it will be hard for us to agree with China,” Pence said during an interview with Tony Katz, a radio host located in Indianapolis.

The vice president said the U.S. was “taking a strong stance with China” and “currently negotiating a phase-one settlement.” Dozens of Hong Kong protestors are injured on Tuesday after a police clash, and activists were expected on Wednesday to block roads and interrupt rail service. In a statement on Monday, the White House said that Chinese authorities should “protect the freedom, legal system, and democratic lifestyle of Hong Kong,” and State Secretary Michael Pompeo said the U.S. is “seriously concerned” with rising violence in the city.

But President Donald Trump spoke delicately about the protests as he attempts to conclude an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping that could end the trade war with Beijing.

Trump has yet to comment on an attempt by Senate Republicans to pass legislation that aids protesters in Hong Kong, a move which risks angering Beijing.

The policy was displeased by Chinese officials, finding it an inappropriate interference in their domestic affairs. In reaction to last week’s House vote, the Foreign Ministry issued “solid countermeasures” and echoed the warning as the Senate was ready to cast ballots on Tuesday.

The bipartisan Senate bill would sanction Chinese officials found to have violated the “freedoms and autonomy” of Hong Kong and would require an annual review of the special status of Hong Kong under U.S. law.

Trump told reporters during Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting that China is “going to have to make a deal that I like if they don’t, that’s it.” But the president added that he’s “pleased with China right now.”

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