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Eli Lake

How Trump’s Trade War Can Help Hong Kong

The president has gained leverage that he can use to discourage a violent response to the protests.

What Hong Kong democracy looks like.

What Hong Kong democracy looks like.

Photographer: YE AUNG THU/AFP

As the world watches the standoff between the people of Hong Kong and the Chinese troops amassed on its border, it’s understandable to fear the worst is yet to come.

Chinese President Xi Jinping last month warned that any attempt to split Hong Kong from China — which agreed in 1997 to allow Hong Kong to keep its liberal system for 50 years — would end with “bodies smashed and bones ground to powder.” The victory of pro-democracy forces in local elections last weekend has already prompted a stern warning from Beijing. The prospect of a Tiananmen-style confrontation in Hong Kong is real.