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US President Donald Trump has expressed his concern about the risk of a Chinese crackdown in Hong Kong over persistent violent protests in the semi-autonomous territory.

Trump who issued a statement on the matter on Thursday also suggested that President Xi Jinping of China should take the extraordinary step of sitting down with protesters as a way to help de-escalate the situation.

The US President says he is worried after China warned that Beijing would not “sit by and watch” as the unrest in Hong Kong continues.

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“I am concerned,” he told reporters in New Jersey late on Thursday before travelling to a campaign rally.

Trump urged Xi to negotiate directly with pro-democracy protesters, saying: “I would be willing to bet that if he sat down with the protesters… I’ll bet he’d work it out in 15 minutes.”

The weeks-long Hong Kong protests were sparked by the opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the mainland, but have since morphed into a wider – sometimes violent – call for democratic rights.

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