WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he was not considering placing sanctions on Chinese President Xi Jinping personally over Beijing’s push to impose national security legislation in Hong Kong.
Trump on Friday ordered his administration to begin the process of eliminating special U.S. treatment for Hong Kong to punish China and said Washington would also impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for “smothering – absolutely smothering – Hong Kong’s freedom.”
“I haven’t thought of that,” Trump said on Wednesday when asked in an interview on Newsmax TV whether he was thinking about imposing sanctions on Xi.
Asked about his relationship with Xi, Trump said: “Haven’t spoken to him in a while. It was very good.”
He praised a trade agreement the two countries signed in January, but criticized Beijing for the novel coronavirus pandemic, which began in China.
“China should have never let it happen,” Trump said.
China said on Monday U.S. attempts to harm Chinese interests would be met with firm countermeasures.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Sam Holmes)