MORRISTOWN, New Jersey: US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday (Aug 13) the situation in Hong Kong was tricky, but he hoped it would work out for everybody, including China, and "for liberty" without anyone getting hurt or killed.
Trump cited US intelligence as saying that China's government was moving troops to its border with Hong Kong, and urged calm as clashes continued between protesters and authorities in the former British colony.
It was not immediately clear whether Trump was reporting fresh troop movements or movements near the border already reported in the media. "Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!" he tweeted.
"The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation - very tough," Trump told reporters earlier during a visit to Morristown, New Jersey. "We'll see what happens."
"It's a very tricky situation. I think it will work out and I hope it works out, for liberty. I hope it works out for everybody, including China. I hope it works out peacefully. I hope nobody gets hurt. I hope nobody gets killed."
Trump, who has been seeking a major deal to correct trade imbalances with China, drew criticism this month after he described the Hong Kong protests as "riots," and said they were a matter for China and Hong Kong to deal with as the territory was part of China.
His comments came as things took a violent turn at Hong Kong's international airport on Tuesday evening, after flights were disrupted for a second day, plunging the former British colony deeper into turmoil.
The scuffles broke out in the evening between police and protesters, after an injured person was taken out of the main terminal by medics.
Several police vehicles were blocked by protesters, and riot police moved in, pushing some protesters back and using pepper spray at times amid heated scenes.
Protesters also barricaded some passageways in the airport with luggage trolleys and other objects.
At one point, protesters attacked a police officer with batons, forcing the officer to pull out his gun and point it at them to protect himself.
In a series of tweets at about 11pm, the Hong Kong police said a visitor at the airport had been assaulted and was "currently being besieged" by protesters.
"A visitor was assaulted and is currently being besieged by a large group of protesters at the Hong Kong International Airport," said the police. "He requires immediate medical attention, but the protesters concerned have been obstructing ambulance officers from rendering medical assistance."
The injured man had earlier been surrounded for more than two hours inside the airport by protesters who were convinced he was an undercover police officer, according to AFP.
Another man who was mobbed and tied up by protesters was later identified as Global Times reporter Fu Guohao, according to a tweet by Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the publication.
Ten weeks of increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters have roiled the Asian financial hub as thousands of residents chafe at a perceived erosion of freedoms and autonomy under Chinese rule.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Hong Kong to exercise restraint and investigate evidence of its forces firing tear gas at protesters in ways banned under international law.