The Chinese Communist government has plans to put it’s own law enforcement into Hong Kong. In response, President Trump has decided to cut all trade from China. This sounds good at first until one realizes Hong Kong is where that trade originates. Hong Kong’s financial success is tied to the trade from Mainland China.
Using trade as a diplomatic tool is completely normal. Trade can be used to sway other nations to give concessions such as better trade deals, limiting aggression against our allies and improving human rights conditions. Trade as a diplomatic tool doesn’t work if there is no trade. To successfully use economic tools they have to exist.
Cutting off all trade with China is counter productive. The idea is to put some pressure on political opponents in a regime in order to come to an accord. No accord can be reached by cutting all ties. We cannot help those seeking democracy and semi autonomy in Hong Kong in this manner. We cannot help the Fallon Gong, the people of Tibet nor the Uyghurs in concentration camps without trade as leverage. Putting some economic pressure makes sense, cutting our ability to do so in the future does not.
Things are so dire that Borris Johnson of the UK has offered to resettle 3 million Hong Kong residents to their country and offer them a path to citizenship (story from CNN). There are a little over 7.5 million people living in Hong Kong. That leaves 4.5 million. I wonder if Trump would make a similar offer? People who believe more firmly in democracy than most Americans it seems.