Donald Trump plays on all fronts. The US president asked Friday in Beijing to act "with humanity" after the arrest of several figures of the Hong Kong movement for democratic reforms and the ban on a large demonstration Saturday in the former British colony. He also assured that the commercial standoff he has engaged with the Chinese authorities helped to ease tensions between Beijing and the territory in the grip of pro-democracy protests.
"Without the trade negotiations, Hong Kong would be much more difficult," he said. "My commercial action really helps to relieve fever" in Hong Kong, he added. Donald Trump had already in mid-August made a link between his trade talks with China to the crisis in Hong Kong. He had already called on Beijing to act with "humanity", after being initially criticized for its apparent benevolence towards the communist authorities.
Prohibited event Saturday
Hong Kong has been going through its worst crisis for nearly three months since it was handed over to China in 1997, with almost daily demonstrations and actions that have sometimes degenerated.
Several Hong Kong pro-democracy figures, including Joshua Wong and three MPs, were arrested on Friday, a crackdown by associations of Chinese attempts to muzzle opposition after a major protest was banned on Saturday.
A massive new rally was scheduled for Saturday on the fifth anniversary of Beijing's refusal to hold universal suffrage elections in the semi-autonomous region, triggering the 2014 "Umbrella Movement", marked by 79 days of occupation of the financial and political heart of Hong Kong.
The Front was dismissed in its appeal against the ban, one of its leaders, Bonnie Leung, said that the FCHR had "no option but to cancel the event tomorrow." But other initiatives are about to emerge, some proposing a football match, a mass shopping outing or an impromptu religious gathering. It is likely that the call to measure of the FCHR is not heard by the most radical group, mostly made up of very young students. And the risk of new violence is real.