US President Donald Trump claimed on Friday that were it not for him, Hong Kong "would have been obliterated in 14 minutes" by Chinese troops.
In an interview with Fox News, Trump said President Xi Jinping refrained from sending in the military against pro-democracy demonstrators in the special administrative region only because he asked him to.
"If it weren't for me, Hong Kong would have been obliterated in 14 minutes," Trump said.
Xi "has a million soldiers standing outside of Hong Kong, are not going only because I asked him. 'Please don't do that. You will be making a big mistake. It will have a tremendous negative impact on the trade deal.'"
Trump also said Washington and Beijing could be on the cusp of sealing a partial trade deal but reiterated he was in no hurry to sign.
Hours earlier, Xi had told a gathering of dignitaries in Beijing that China wanted a deal but was "not afraid" to fight back if needed.
"We have a deal, potentially very close," Trump said. "He wants to make a deal much more than I want to make it. I'm not anxious to make it."
Trump added that revenues from tariffs on Chinese imports were a windfall for the United States, something economists say is in fact weighing on the economy. (AFP)
Last updated: 2019-11-22 HKT 22:29