The 5 p.m. ET Rose Garden event was added to the President’s schedule in the middle of the afternoon. It was billed as a “press conference”, although previously the White House had announced events such as press conferences so that Trump would leave without answering questions.
The president has faced increasing pressure to take a tighter stance on China as the country exercises new control over Hong Kong and its coronavirus management is under scrutiny.
The issue has become a major theme of the election year as Trump and his rival Joe Biden each try to paint the other as weak in the face of Beijing’s aggression. Both parties used the problem in campaign announcements.
Trump has said he is not satisfied with the country, but has no plans yet to abandon the trade deal he signed with Chinese President Xi Jinping last year.
The move would impose sanctions on companies and individuals who would help China restrict Hong Kong’s autonomy. It has been approved by unanimous consent and is awaiting Trump’s signature.
On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the official rejection of “most” of China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea, the latest in the escalation between Washington and Beijing.
Last week, the Trump administration took action against Chinese officials for their involvement in human rights violations in the Xinjiang region, where Uighur Muslims and other minority groups were arrested and tortured.
And two weeks ago, the administration announced visa restrictions on current and former Chinese officials, who it said were “responsible for the gutting of the freedoms of Hong Kong.”